Progress- yes - it is one of the pillars of survival for those of us with kids with special needs. Zach has made progress - in the strangest of ways. It is never quite what we wanted, but appreciated nonetheless.
Sometimes you just cannot see the forest from the trees. I realize after reading and talking with so many other parents that it is imperative to write down where Zach is at from time to time. Thus the blog is helpful in recollecting from how far he has come. I will not lie to you, I want to write to you how he is talking above all else. As much as my heart desires this, I have learned to prioritize other skills as being just as important.
Zach still does not have much in the way of functional language. I have noticed a few of the therapists referring to him as non-verbal, which I realize after being in this as long as I have, is really not accurate. He has no real functional language - he is not conversational nor has he yet to recognize the power of words; the critical reason for verbal communication.
Another critical skill, potty training, is touch and go. Zach is pretty much schedule trained for #1, as I have written before. But #2 still has yet to be conquered. He, if wearing appropriate attire, will pull down his pants and do his business independently and dress himself afterward. He will flush, and if prompted, will wash and dry his hands appropriately. This, along with his aim, has made him heads above half the people I used to work with.
As for motor skills, he is having some success. He is doing better at alternating his feet when going up and down the stairs. He is cutting with scissors fairly well. His coloring needs to be worked on, but he is enjoying doing crafts. He even surprised me with a recent independent track on his scooter. It was only for 7 feet - but I was excited about this nonetheless.
He did something that surprised me last week, while at Babcia Morphet's house: he sat down to play Candyland with Sophie and me. It was crazy how he knew how to pick the card from the pile, look at it, and discard. He had no idea, however, which piece was his and what to do with it. This is a goal I am making for him - for him to know how to play this game with just some minor prompts. It was really cool to see that he was interested in this.
And there are the things I do not understand. Like how he went over to the neighbors house and rang the doorbell for Lord only knows what reason. I was embarrassed as my neighbor came to the door after just stepping out of the shower and all I could say is "I'm not sure why, but Zach wanted to stop by and say 'Hi!' "Sophia surmises that he wanted to swim in their pool as he walked over to our other neighbors house immediately afterward and was looking longingly at their now-closed-for-the-season pool.
Then there is ice cream. Somehow, he managed to get into our freezer and get a pint of his ice cream out and go to town. I am still perplexed how he could reach it - there were no obvious signs of climbing like a chair pulled over to the refrigerator. Motivation can make many unlikely things happen.
And then the other day, out of the blue, we were standing in the kitchen when he grabbed my hand and said "Come". I followed him as he pulled me into the family room where we arrived at a bookcase. He then said "pick me up" and I did as he gestured for something on one of the bookshelves. I looked to see a toy which I grabbed and he responded with a "nnn nnn nnnn". I put the toy back and he reached towards the back of the shelf and grabbed for himself the tin where Buddy's ashes are stored. I have no idea how he knew where this was nor did I have a clue as to why he would be interested in it at first. I showed it to him and told him that it was Buddy's ashes. I put it back on the shelf, and he gestured that he wanted it back. I gave it to him, and he cradled it in his arms. He did this twice more after I told Steve he had to see what was up.
OK - I don't really care if you think I am crazy right now: I know what Zach was telling me, and so did Steve. I said to Steve so what do you think about that? And he responded with a "We are not getting another dog until Zach learns to poop on the potty. We are not having more than one thing poop in this house at a time."
Regression is a hated word in the autism world. Children acquire skills, and are also known to lose those same skills. Hopefully for every few steps forward there is only one small step back. I would never want to go through that initial horrifying regression of Zach's where he lost his point, his eye contact, his words ever again.
I recently met a family whose children were Zach's age when they regressed into autism. I cannot imagine having your hopes dashed so late into the development stage. It was heartbreaking for me to hear about for sure. However, they are moving forward. Mom and Dad are very involved and always seem to have a smile on their faces. You just don't hear them complain. They are very inspiring to me.
So, time marches on and hopefully Zach's skills will too. I am hoping for a Christmas where he gets the concept of the holiday a little more. And maybe the mystery of Zach might be a little more revealed. Holiday miracles anyone?