They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well for me this picture is worth not only that but also infinite amounts of patience, understanding, hard work and love. This simple drawing has brought me to tears today. Why you ask? This is the first time that Cece has drawn a picture for me. Sure she’s scribbled and made circles and such in the past. But THIS is a huge first for her. She created this on her magnadoodle this morning, then she brought it to me and told me “Mom, spider and uh flower!”. No scribbles, just exactly what she said. There is an 8 legged spider and a flower with petals, and a stem too.
A year ago Cecelia did not have the strength in her fingers to do anything other than grab a crayon with her fist and scribble. She didn’t have the muscle strength to trace lines or do anything other than scribble. But here she is not only creating a wonderful picture for me but also she shared it with me AND described it!! Just typing that is making me cry again :’)
The incredible meaning behind such accomplishments is overwhelming. We have so many firsts going on right now in our home that I can hardly keep up with my awesome girls let alone find time to do any writing LOL.
Parents of neurotypical children probably simply do not understand the overwhelming pride and joy us parents of AWEtistic children feel over the little accomplishments. Drawing a picture, getting dressed, saying “I love you”, following a direction, pretend play, making eye contact, giving or asking for affection, communicating be it in words, signs or with cards….all of these things are huge accomplishments for not only our ASD child but the entire family and team of people that have been working so hard.
What an amazing time this is for us. My girls are simply astounding me. The other day I was making lunch and Cecelia was helping. I hadn’t asked her to help but she saw I was making lunch so she cleared the residual play dough off the table, washed the table, put napkins out, got two glasses from the cupboard, filled them with water and took them to the table without spilling. I didn’t have to ask her, prompt her, repeat myself over and over again, she simply did it all by herself. Not only did she get her lunch stuff ready but she got all this for Glenna too. It was awesome.
Glenna has also been growing and learning by leaps and bounds. She talks so much for a 2 year old. Not only is she talking but she’s also potty trained during the day now. It’s really nice only to have one in diapers all the time. Glenna potty trained with hardly any effort whatsoever. I only rewarded her with candy the first two times she went after that just lots of praise and lots of high 5’s.
Glenna does speech and occupational homework with Cece and I each evening. Be it reading books, playing games, sign language/word practice or letter recognition flash cards. I didn’t realize how much Glenna was picking up from these practice sessions until one day a couple weeks ago. I was in the bathroom getting ready for a walk to the store. With potty training going on I had to move Glenna’s Cosco step stool over to get to the sink. I was brushing my hair and Glenna came in beside me, nothing unusual as she likes to pretend to be grown up and pretend to put on deodorant, perfume etc. I am standing there and I hear her say “C-O-S-C-O” WHAT??? No, surely I was mistaken!!
I bent down and asked her “What did you say?”. Glenna pointed to the letters on the stool and repeated “C-O-S-C-O!” I was astounded. I praised her and then we finished getting ready to go. On the walk to the store we stopped at the espresso stand to get some soy chocolate smoothies and while we waited I decided to see just how many letters Glenna knew. Sure enough she knew quite a few of the letters that I pointed out on their menu board.
I decided to discuss this and Glenna’s other unbelievable communication/language skills with Cecelia’s SLP. She told me that despite the fact that Glenna is getting intensive language practice due to all the hard work I’m doing with Cece it is very unusual for the sibling of an autistic child to have the skills Glenna has. Furthermore the SLP said that not only are Glenna’s language skills phenominal but also she’s very social and interacts with people. This is not a likely combination. She felt that Glenna was extremely ahead for her age (she isn’t quite 2 1/2 years old) and that Glenna is likely a gifted little girl.
I found these things a little confusing and thought that she must be mistaken. Surely other younger siblings of children with autism or developmental delays pick up on the therapies and teachings their older siblings receive. But I sure can’t find anything online to support that. In fact the only things I am find are scholarly articles that state just what the SLP said. They say that younger siblings are usually delayed and have social issues. So now I am coming up with strategies to home preschool Glenna and challenge her during this time that she loves to learn.
Cecelia is learning so much right now. She will be going to kindergarten next year. I met with her new SPED teacher and her new “team” of teachers/people that will be at Cece’s new elementary school next year. Cecelia will be in the SPED classroom but will spend part of each day with the regular kindergarten class. The SPED classroom is filled with several teachers/aides and I think there were 4 maybe 5 little boys in the class. The teachers, all females, are excited to have Cece next year as she will be the first girl that they’ve had in their class.
Currently in the SPED preschool the teacher will send home a form everyday with Cece that tells me about her day since she is unable to do so herself. Today’s form was tear jerkingly wonderful! Her teacher said that she had a great day and was very talkative. Cecelia spontaneously made more than 10-15 requests for things at school today. Spontaneously!!! 😀
Such hard work but such awesome achievements. I love my girls so much and I am so proud of them for all that they’e overcome and accomplished. I’ve been working so hard advocating for Cece. Now she is receiving 10 hours of dayhab a week in addition to the 10 hours of respite care. Dayhab’s soul purpose is to get her out into the community and help develop and increase her social skills. So now six days a weeks she is receiving services. Three days a week she goes to OT/PT/Speech therapies, then she has speech therapy at SPED preschool too. SPED preschool is 4 days a week.
Next year kindergarten is going to pose some new challenges for all of us. Kindergarten here is 5 days a week from 8:45 a.m. until 3 p.m. That’s a very very long day for Cece. She struggles and gets tired right now with 3 hours of preschool after 2 hours of therapies. So we are coming up with strategies to work through this and build her stamina. For awhile we will just continue with basically her current schedule slowly building hours dependent on how she does.
While she’s doing all that I will be at home working with Glenna plus building business for my online store. Our lives are extremely full right now. We only currently have Saturdays off without any form of school, therapy, respite or dayhab appointments. Things will slow down in the summer. Cece will attend summer school but only two days a week with two weeks off at the beginning of the summer and 2 more weeks at the end of the summer (at least that how they did it last year). She will still be receiving all her therapies during that time. Early intervention!! That’s our motto and Cece is definitely proving how important that is.
Well I think I’ve babbled long enough today. I was just so excited about the events of the day. It was a wondrous day!! Life is good. I can honestly say that unlike when we were living out in Bristol Bay and I said it to cover up the domestic violence and depression I was living with. I am so grateful for everything and everyone we have here in Kenai. I love it here and know that Segundo is watching from above and that he is happy with all of our hard work and all that we’ve accomplished.
We’re doing it Segundo!! I’m doing it!! Life is good and I hope that I am making you proud!
Signing off for now…..talk to y’all later….hopefully will find more time to blog….maybe 😀