Over the past week or so there has been a thread on twitter called “#youmightbeanautismparentif” and parents of children on the spectrum from all over the world have added their nuggets of wisdom.
I have spent hours reading them with tears of recognition, joy, and sadness and while it’s great to know that there are so many of us on very similar yet also strikingly different journeys, it is also very confronting because the fact that autism is a majorly misunderstood condition became very apparent.
I tweeted several times on this hashtag but there were two particular tweets of mine that were retweeted several times.
They were: “#youmightbeanautismarentif: your child hands you a scrawled note that you can hardly read but you recognise the word “love” & that’s all that matters
#youmightbeanautismarentif: you get excited about the little things because for you they are BIG things.
And these two tweets are what I plan to write tonight’s post about. Let’s call it “Progress”.
Scrap that. I’ll go one better than that and call it “Promotion” because I really do feel that I can look back at 2011 and feel like we have all earned our stripes and started climbing up to the next prestigious level of achievement.
I was reading back over my blog from this time last year and I was blown away by how far we really have come in just 12 short months.
The first post that grabbed my attention was written on this same exact day: 28th November 2010.
It was a post that I obviously wrote in one of my darker hours. I was in a bit of a ditch and longing for sturdy ground. I wrote this line:
Harley has been hitting other children at school, he is obviously not coping. His punishment?….writing words out of a dictionary….
I remember it well. I was over everything at this point. Completely and entirely over it. We had spent literally months fighting to get what Harley deserved and he responded by physically and emotionally attacking us at home and it had just started to seep out into the playground as well.
He struggled so much with his handwriting, he was physically unable to hold a pencil for long and school-work just about did his head in every day. It was hard enough for the poor child to even sit in his seat due to the massive sensory overload that he was experiencing every second of every day, let alone achieve what the other kids were able to without even being consciously aware of it. And he knew he wasn’t able to reach the same standards that they were so he descended into attack mode.
So for him to be given the task of WRITING as punishment??? Well…my reaction to that can be figured out pretty easily.
But back to my tweets: your child hands you a scrawled note that you can hardly read but you recognise the word “love” & that’s all that matters …..
Can you see how huge this is?
Can you see that for me – receiving a love note from my child is massive in itself, but to think that he took the time to do something that he despises and struggles with just to let me know how he feels….it’s just…..WOW!
And my reaction to his letter also incorporates my second tweet: you get excited about the little things because for you they are BIG things.
I read a little further back in my blog and I came across the post that I wrote about Lucas’ Early Intervention’s final group and their little end-of-year Christmas Party. (Funnily enough TODAY was the day for this year’s finale and party…and he is now a GRADUATE!)
Anyway….Last year I wrote that I came home devastated because I was the only parent who’d forgotten that it was the final week and didn’t come prepared with party food and ironically, I’d only just written a post 3 days earlier appropriately entitled: I forgot.
My brain was literally fried, my coping strategies were almost nil and my will to keep putting one foot in front of the other was severely challenged.
Here are a couple of excerpts from that post:
The parents were handed scrapbooks full of all the work that our children have been doing this year.
And this is the part where my heart sank.
No, not because it was bad work, but quite the opposite.
I realised how much of Lucas’ growth and achievements I had actually missed.
I must have looked like mother-of-the-year when I loudly exclaimed “Wow, Lucas, you can actually use scissors!”………..One of the leaders looked at me surprised that I had not known this about my own son!
I didn’t even know he had even ever held a pair!
It seems that I had gotten so busy with everything else that was going on in my life; Lucas had managed to fly under the radar.
But look at him now! Look at what he brought home today!
And I knew that he was capable of doing all of these things. I have finally cleared a space in my crowded brain to make room for recognising and praising his achievements this time around.
12 months ago I still had a child in nappies at 4 ½ wondering if he would EVER get the gist of toileting…..
12 months ago I seriously wondered if I would have to repeat Harley at school.
12 months ago Ella was just starting to recover from years of torment and bullying after one of her bullies left the school.
And 12 months ago I was pleading for the holidays to begin.
This year – we have had Lucas toilet trained for almost a year now, he is starting big school in February, he has come ahead in leaps and bounds with his speech and has benefited massively from all the early intervention that he has received.
Harley – well, he his reading level is in line with what’s expected for his age group. He is having intensive OT with a wonderful lady who has built an amazing repoire with him and he is willingly writing shopping lists, score tally sheets and love notes to his Mum.
And socially Ella is part of a wonderful little group of genuinely lovely girls, I have set the foundations for us to build even further on the mother/daughter trust relationship and as of ten minutes ago I received a text message from Mr Patient who is at her school presentation night where she just received a Principals award for academic achievement.
So I think that Promotion is definitely the word of the hour here and it’s so true that you get excited about the little things because for you they are BIG things.