I have been in tears twice in the last two days. And they were tears of happiness, not of frustration.
Let me explain.
We deal with lots and lots of things connected to Little Guy’s SPD and various delays. To describe them all would take me many hours and many blog posts. Suffice it to say that, unless you have a child with this or a similar diagnosis, it is hard to imagine the sheer multiplicity of ways in which these issues invade every corner of a child’s life, making everything just a little bit harder for him than for other kids.
With many SPD kids, Little Guy included, delayed motor skills are one of the most obvious problems. We have issues with fine motor skills, motor planning, gross motor skills, proprioception, etc. Anything physical is hard for Little Guy. He can’t catch a ball. He can’t write all those amazing words he can spell. He certainly can’t dance. I watch Baby V rocking back and forth happily in rhythm with whatever music she hears, and I am filled with wonder because Little Guy has never done that. Never. Not once.
We spend hours each week working on these things. We listen to music and try to move to it. We play physical imitation games. We work with scarves, tossing them in the air and trying to catch them. We work with every art and sensory medium available. We string beads. We practice carrying things level. We do hand-over-hand writing. We work, and work, and work.
Sometimes, I see no progress for weeks. That is discouraging, but I doggedly keep going. Sometimes, we seem to take a step backward, and that is heartbreaking. Sometimes, there is minimal ongoing progress, and that gives me hope. We keep going.
And sometimes there is a week like this one. A week in which everything suddenly goes right.
I don’t know what happened this week. But after all the hundreds of times we have worked with writing letters hand-over-hand, suddenly this week he started writing some on his own. He wrote D’s and I’s and a couple more. He wrote them several times, on three consecutive days. I was in shock.
Then last night, Hubby and I took him to the playground. We sat watching him as he carefully moved across the equipment. After a while, we got distracted talking for a moment; and when we turned back to him, we both gasped. You know those arched ladder-like things with far-apart rungs that often connect separate pieces of playground equipment? I’m not sure what they’re called…but anyway. Little Guy had never dared try one on his own before, and the two times I had coaxed him into trying, he couldn’t balance on the initial rung to lean forward and steady himself, and ended up falling through the bars (with me there to catch him.) But last night was different. We looked over, and there he was already half-way across the arch, moving confidently forward. No trouble at all. He reached the end of the arch, climbed off, and just kept going as if it were no big deal. But I was already tearing up. I called him over and asked him to do it again. Sure enough, he climbed up, put one foot on the first rung, leaned carefully forward to balance himself, and quickly climbed over….confidently, steady, and with perfect balance. I immediately started sobbing.
I just couldn’t handle the hope. Sometimes it is the littlest things that make it most real. It sneaks up on you by surprise.
Oh, and then today, this.
Little Guy has played with play-doh for a long time, but has never actually made anything. The motor planning and fine motor skills involved have just been beyond him. He loves playing with the dough, though….pinching it into pieces, squishing it, rolling it. It has been great sensory play for him, and I have been happy to let it be just that, and to keep gently showing him how to make things. Then today, when I set him at the table, I had to walk away and take care of Baby V. I came back to find this.
Now, for all of you parents of neurotypical five-year-olds who make amazing play-doh creations every day, that may not look like much. But that is a HUGE achievement in our book…huge. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a train…complete with a freight-car, rooftop claw, eyes, buffers, and whistle. I am not kidding. Can’t you see it??? And it was completely his idea and his work. These pictures were NOT staged in any way. I promise.
That was my second time crying tears of joy this week.
Oh, and did I mention that several months ago (pre-GAPS), he was still stringing giant wooden blocks, with help? And that now he strings small beads in rhythm, all by himself? Here’s proof. He’s been making beaded candy cane ornaments for family and friends. The only thing I did was tie off the ends of the pipe cleaners.
So yes, I am swimming in gratitude this week. My children are all the Christmas I could ever ask for…and this is just the icing on the cake.
Merry Christmas, everybody.