(originally posted here)
I often bemoan the bureaucracy that impedes the help and therapy needed for a child who is struggling and, at times, I think we can lose sight of all the steps forwards that are children are making because we are stumbling on the rocky road in front of us. So, in light of that and in such happiness for all the steps forward, no matter how small, here's an update on Bobby and how he's doing.
* During preschool class, when the teacher talks about emotions, Bobby has been mimicing the sounds. This is great interaction but also shows that he is paying attention which, during things like story time, can be a huge struggle. He also is transitioning from activities without the same issues he was having in doing so.
* In preschool today, a little boy joined Bobby at the puzzle table and they interacted about the letters and numbers. While there is no doubt that Bobby knows the information, the interaction and back-and-forth with a peer are HUGE for him. He also has been engaging in larger groups, which is also a big deal because he used to have issues being around larger groups of children in the classroom setting.
* Yesterday, the kids and I went to the grocery store and he asked me for- like, really asked- a watermelon. (He loves them, and Maya does too, but Bobby would eat the entire thing). They had some of the mini ones, so I got one since we needed fruit anyway. Fast forward to home: once I've unpacked, he comes up and asks me if I will cut it. Still a three word sentence, but definitely a question, with eye contact. I explain that I'm getting the cutting board, knife, etc, and Bobby brings me the watermelon, putting it on the board. He offered to help me cut it, but when I said it was a grown up activity, he took his hands away and waited until I gave him a slice. When he wanted more, he asked. When I put it away, he shocked me even more but wanting to help clean the cutting board! So, at the sink (since he's tall enough), he helped wash the board and put it in the drying rack. I was shocked! This morning? He wanted to bring the laundry basket of clean clothes into my bedroom (which is where I sort them). He's getting so much better with volunteering for tasks, helping when he's asked (like cleaning up toys), telling us when he wants something (getting dressed, food, etc), and listening when it's time to come in from outside or leave the playground. While he's nowhere near to the average 4 year old in verbal skills, his language is definitely progressing and his eye contact is now way more present than it was before.
* He's been asking for what he wants and, when we understand, we are rewarded with the biggest smile you've ever seen.
* Today, we played a game after I picked the kids up from school. I had said to Peter that, should they have a good day/go potty/etc, that maybe I'd surprise them and take them to the local orchard store for a cookie. They love that store (and the employees love them), so I thought it would be a nice treat. "I have a surprise," I told them as we left. "Can you guess where we are going?" Maya, of course, said 'home' but I reminded her that we we're going to do something special. Bobby then says, "ice cream!". Which is huge because he was paying attention and able to respond to a 3 way conversation. As Maya tells me about the birthday of a classmate and that they sang happy birthday at school, Bobby continues to mull over where we are going when I stay on Main Street, and by-pass where we would turn for Rita's (he calls ice cream and Rita's both "ice cream" when he's saying them). Then, he says, "Cookies!!!!" which is what he says whenever we go by Tabora. I parked and when I turned was greated with the biggest smile. "Yes," I confirmed. "Cookies!" He starts to kick his feet and clap his hands and Maya joins in.
* His understanding has never been in doubt; however, his behavior to requests he doesnt like can be rough. As his language skills improve, he's been able to express himself more and more, and his behaviors are lessoning.
Bobby is growing up and, with each day of age comes more milestones met and more maturity (even for a preschooler), but I know that a lot of his strides come from the people in his life who are working so hard to make it happen. He has 2 speech therapists- a private one once a week and one from the IU who visits him at school twice a week- and they both work on different skills. He has an OT who comes to the house once a week and she is constantly teaching him new strategies for how to help himself. While we may never know week to week what he is gathering from her, his behavioral changes speak for themselves. His 1-on-1 aide is with him for 8 hours at school and his BSC visits weekly at school; both of these women are tireless advocates for him and dont let him get away with a thing! That structure has been a huge boom to his success. His preschool teacher, Miss M, and both the classroom aides (but especially his fave, Mrs. M) are MAJOR helps to him. Like his aide and BSC, he gets away with nothing and the structure is a grace for him. But they truly love him for the little boy he is and they make his weaknesses into strengths for the classroom. When they see him falling back on something, they change it up. And rather than be upset that her classroom has a child who has some special needs, Miss M has risen to the challenge and embraced this year. One of her recent dailies reads: "You're right, he's not the average 4 year old child, but I'm so glad for that because he has made my days so much more interesting in a very good way!" Comments like these are common from her; she has taken this year- which is her first with a child with needs like Bobby has- and has made it from something that terrified me into something that has been such a huge blessing to our family.
* Something that I wouldnt have dreamed of doing months ago went off without a hitch when Bobby and I went out for mini-golf. He'd never done this before and he really struggles with new activities, especially when there is so much stimulation from the environment around him. We got one, kid sized club and 2 balls (red of course!). We played an 18 hole course! It wasnt by the rules of course, but we had so much fun and he had a blast. It took him a while to get it, but eventually he could hold the club and hit the ball himself, and he was great at getting the balls out of the hole. The only issue we had was a love of the water, but he listened when his name was called and never got too close to the water areas. It was a huge success.
Every day is a step: sometimes we take a big one forward, other times a big one backwards. But each day is still a day to learn- for Bobby, for Maya, and for us. I'm so grateful for the many steps forward that are getting us through, day by day.