If somebody asked me to name a song title which describes how I feel about Sophie, it would be that one (by the Police). Perhaps other parents of autistic kids understand what I mean. We don't get to celebrate many milestones, at least not at appropriate times. But every ounce of progress our children achieve makes us tingle with equal pride to them delivering their valedictorian speech at graduation.
We so long for any sign of intelligence or engagement, we pounce on any half-glimpse or absent-minded touch ("did you see her just touch my arm!?", "she looked at me as she was stealing my cookie!"- wiping tear of pride from eye).
That said, when REAL progress occurs, look out! I swell up like a mama balloon and want to shout it from the rooftops. Of course that's not always the most socially appropriate thing to do, and anyway her accomplishments while monumental to me, are trivial to parents of normally -developing toddlers. So I will brag here :)
Sophie is making steps forward in her development. I don't know if it's a sign of growing up or if she's really learning a bit or if it's just a good stretch we are going through. But in the spirit of gratitude I try not to overanalyze, but really "live" in these moments and appreciate them for the tiny miracles that they are.
Little bits of magic Sophie's been performing lately;
- Improved eye contact. She looks intently into my face as if saying "do you get what I'm saying?". I'm trying baby girl, I'm trying.
- Looking for me in the house, for no apparent reason other than to find me. Then sometimes she will push me toward the arm chair and clamber onto my lap. She loves cuddles. Who said autistic kids are not affectionate? Sophie could cuddle all day.
- Playing peek-a-boo, everywhere. Under her ramp, behind the trampoline. Last time at play group she went into a little toddler playhouse and peek-a-boo'ed from one of the windows, over and over.
- The before-mentioned play house's doorway was too low for her so Sophie walked in with an exaggerated bow of the head. However, her odd sense of timing caused her to lift up her head at precisely the wrong moment, and receive a bonk on the head. Every time. And every time she came out holding her head with an over-the-top dramatic " uh oh" face. And we both made a big fuss of her injury. Every time.
- Trying to talk! So far just the first consonants and approximations of words like "go" or "uh oh". Let me tell you the best sounds to my ears. She looks at my lips when I talk, forming her own lips into the right shape. She wants to learn, why is it so hard for her? Her favorites are short high-impact words like "go" or " push". She can listen to them over and over.
- She is getting just ever so stronger and more coordinated. It is subtle to anyone who is not with her all day. But she isn't falling down as often. And walks faster with more confidence. And just this week she got up off the floor without pulling up on a chair-twice! And she climbed over a gym bench that blocks the entrance to the gym at the drop-in. Small miracles indeed, all of them.
- Copying my yawns and sneezes. I sometimes do these unashamedly when I'm around my two babies. What, they're not going to scold me for lack of manners, are they? Well lately after a rousing "a-choo!" I look over and Sophie's face is open in a perfect freeze-frame of a sneeze. And when I yawn, Sophie "yawns" too. This is exciting because apparently autistic people lack "mirror neurons" which help us learn things by watching others. Perhaps Sophie has some of those mirror neurons after all.
So as our American friends celebrate Thanksgiving today (Canadian Thanksgiving passed quietly and unassumedly, like most everything around here, in October), I join in the spirit of thanks for the small miracles and for the magic Sophie adds to our life every day. I also thank Sophie for being present in the moment always and for slowing down the crazy pace of family life. If anybody embodies the spirit of Zen, it is her.
|You can't rush genius|