When you have a child with autism, "progress" can look a lot different than parenting a "normal" child. Caleb had some regular milestones like sitting up, learning to crawl, and learning to walk. But when he started falling behind in other areas, progress, as we thought it would come, started to look very different.
Our victories with Caleb would probably go un-noticed by many other people. He's 5 years old and finally looks at you when you call his name? Best day ever! 6 years old and finally pointed at something?....who cares? We did! He hadn't used a gesture properly yet in his life (think waving "hello" and "goodbye", putting arms out to be held, etc.). Being 7 years old and really starting to make eye-contact regularly? Amazing!
How about the last few birthday parties we went to where Caleb wasn't overwhelmed and acting so poorly we had to coral him in a quiet bedroom somewhere? In fact, at his last birthday party, when we were leaving and prompting Caleb to say, "Thank-you, good-bye" to which he would normally echo exactly, or say "good-bye poo poo!" (he's not trying to be rude, he thinks it's funny, and I think it helps him with the awkwardness of goodbyes), he completely surprised us by saying, "Thank-you for the party!". I almost fell over! He thought of, and delivered, an appropriate response to the situation we were in! If other parents had still been around (besides the ones he was talking to who know him), they would have thought we were being a little dramatic over a simple phrase from a kid who looks old enough to know what to say.
I cleaned out our filing folder the other day, and was looking over some records we have from Caleb's many years of therapies.
In one report from when Caleb was 3 years old, the doctor said, "He struggles with following directions of others, understanding safety, attention and focus to task as well as directing impulse behaviour." When I look at Caleb now as a 9 year old, I can see the many (many!) improvements he has made in all of these areas.
Another report from when he was 5 years old and talking about a test to determine his intellectual aptitude says, "At this time Caleb was unable to complete the various test demands required for this individually administered cognitive test. As a result the examiner could not obtain an estimate of Caleb's intellectual capacity. Caleb was not able to verbalize as he has no real speech or language skills or could could he gesture to a response and appeared confused with the instructions of the cognitive test. As a result, Caleb was attestable at the time of the assessment and the cognitive portion of the testing procedures was discontinued".
Compare that to a test he was asked to do by a therapist who came to see him at school a while back. The test was meant to be done over three 20 minute periods (at 3 different visits), and involved following many steps and tasks (writing, following directions, answering questions orally, etc.) . In a meeting afterward she told us that Caleb was so willing, and was doing so well she just kept going, and he finished all three tests in one chunk & in under an hour. Her only concern when all was said and done was that he held his pencil incorrectly, and wrote his words too far apart on a line. That was it (hazaa!)!!
I guess any parent would be so proud of a kid who demolished a test like that, but I felt so gratified knowing that he wasn't fitting into the tiny little mould doctors and therapists had put him in when he was younger.
Caleb is always holding lessons for me, sometimes obvious, sometimes not. I am at a stage in my life where I am looking at who I've been, and what people think of me, and trying to break that mould for the better. If you've been an angry person, and that's how people see you, why not change it? If people see you as overbearing, change it. You interrupt a lot? Stop it!! Do you tell lies big and small without a second thought? Become an honest person! How about "not able to verbalize as he has no real speech or language skills...and appeared confused with the instructions of the cognitive test. As a result...the cognitive portion of the testing procedures was discontinued"....?
Blow them away.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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