4.21.2013

Spring musings

The arrival of spring makes everything more pleasant. I am definitely a warm weather person. I start dreading the coming of winter in September and I find them harder to bear every passing year. Perhaps should consider moving to a 3-season climate. I have no issues with spring and fall, I quite enjoy them both actually, but winter brings me down.

What does that have to do with Sophie or autism, you ask? Well nothing directly. But indirectly, a sluggish or depressed mom has everything to do with everyone and everything in a house. I don't feel depressed in the winter, or at least I don't think I do until the first real sunny, warm day when I feel a surge of renewed energy, almost as if the wind is whispering "everything will be ok, everything IS ok" into my ear. I feel strong, I feel fit. I strap the baby on, I put Sophie in the stroller, heck I even take the dog and we GO. We've had some good walks already with the kids and the promise of more is in the air. We're in a very strolling-friendly neighbourhood, steps from a park and a few more steps from the lake.

Sophie is stronger this spring. She is more sturdy, she can navigate grassy fields, small hills and sidewalks pretty well. I'm not as worried she will fall down and hurt herself as I was last year (she did fall down and hurt herself a lot). She seems compelled to practice her gross motor skills. She'll pick a task, like a curb and go up and down and over it, trying to master it. I always admire her so much when she does that. Sure, it might just be the repetitiveness-loving side of her. But often she seems to be repeating tasks that are quite difficult for her, like thresholds, curbs, stairs, almost as if some part of her knows she needs to practice.

I think she is like me in many ways. She is very happy to be outside. It seems like she has a special connection to nature, trees especially. Since she was an infant she'd gaze at trees for a long, long time, an expression of wonder and quiet happiness on her face. She still does it. I see her head half-turned to the side, her mysterious smile and ask "what do you see there Soaps?" But then I look and see it myself. Do you ever stare at the branches of trees swaying against the blue sky? You should try it sometime, it's good.

Swings are the best

I'm looking forward to picnics at the playground. After school on nice days many parents stay around at the schoolyard and let their kids play. On really sunny days the grassy area is littered with blankets and snacks and kids of all ages (little siblings come to pick up their older brothers and sisters from school). There's something so fun about eating food on a blanket outside. It makes me happy and seeing the kids running around with their friends makes me happy too. Will Sophie play with a friend one day soon? That would be so nice.

Sophie lovin her gym time

A lofty goal for an autistic 3 year old you say? Perhaps. Although, I think if that goal is broken up into small steps it is accomplishable. Last time we went to the toddler gym with Sophie we did a little experiment. She was doing her own obstacle-course path like she does and I added the element of saying "bump" at one point when she was plopping down on a gym mat. She incorporated that step into her path and seemed to enjoy it. So next time she came around, I added the element of high-five after the "bump". She liked it too. But then I challenged her more. Her older brother came with us so I added "high-five to Jake" as the final element. She was definitely challenged by it, but did it! A little shyly and a little uncertainly, but did it. And as she kept repeating her obstacle course, she kept the added elements in (I prompted her a bit on the "high-five to Jake" part).

So we're keeping on. I read something on this blog that really resonated with me. The author writes how she takes her son to the edge of competency and then one step beyond (read it she explains it really well). Her words ring in my ears often when I interact with Sophie. It is a concept that really works for us. It ensures that Sophie trusts that I will lovingly support her while providing just one extra challenge every time.

It is rewarding to see our hard work paying off. I'm looking ahead to the next couple (warm) months with quiet optimism. And now I'm going to go plan my balcony vegetable garden with my big girl. Yay for spring!

 

3 comments:

  1. I am so happy every time I read about the great steps Sophie is taking. The way she fairly readily added the high fives to her routine is wonderful! As is how she practices the gross motor skills. Janey has always loved the outdoors and nature too. She is perfectly happy in our small urban backyard without toys, just looking at the trees, playing with dirt, enjoying wildflowers---I love to see it. I was that way growing up too. I hope this is a spring and summer of amazing growth for Sophie. I think it will be!

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    1. Thanks. It is often hard to predict what our girls will do or how fast they will progress. Sometimes Sophie seems to be on the cusp of a new skill only to abandon the pursuit all together. I don't really expect or look forward to much- just enjoy the process. A lesson in patience and humility, raising my Sophie is.

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  2. Thank you so much for the link to my post. I am delighted that my words have given you pause for thought. Again and again, I find with Nick that *Edge plus one* really works. Keep doing that and you both will just keep moving forward. I loved your story about the obstacle course... it's wonderful.

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