Wednesday, October 5, 2011
He's in kindergarten and he is now 5. Wow. How did we get here so fast?
It's 10:23, morning therapy has been cancelled, he's eating potato chips (OK - I admit I had a few myself) and a chocolate chip muffin and we are both still in our pajamas. That is how we roll in this house: birthdays are a day to break from all the requirements and duties of our life. In other words, we are lazy slobs who like junk food.
I spent last evening in tears. If you search around the web, you will read about "windows of opportunity" with autism. These are time periods that have been suggested to be crucial to the outcomes of children who are diagnosed early. The first oft cited window is 0-3 years. The next is 5. SLAM! Game over, right?
Now, let's get one thing straight right off the bat: I am not sad that Zach has only come so far and hasn't become the child I wish him to be. He is exactly who I want him to be - happy and involved. I hope those are the two things that make him feel fulfilled - my ultimate goal. (Thank you Ms. Cutler for your help with me understanding that...)
My tears came from self pity - a frustration with myself: I no longer work, have a graduate level education, have supposedly dedicated myself to my children, and yet I have failed him; his communication skills are extremely behind.
Something in me tells me he is much more capable than his existing skill set. Gut feeling? To a good extent yes. But a gut feeling with some research/science and anecdotal evidence behind it: he has a lot of the requisite skills for speech: his articulation patterns are mostly age appropriate, his receptive language is growing, he has several single words and a few phrases. The issue? He has yet to understand the purpose of language - most likely because I have not put into place the appropriate environment to realize the importance of communication. Without that, the gap will never close, and in fact, it may be growing wider.
Now I want to express to my readers - I do not cry. Well, OK I do - but very rarely. Compared to other women I have experienced - I am really pretty much on the low end of the scale when it comes to tears. The hours of crying last night that I couldn't control was just a shock for me. Why last night?
I guess I am also grieving the fact that he likely doesn't understand what a birthday is. I am in the process of trying to update him on when people ask him how old he is to say "five" and not "four" anymore. This morning my greeting of "Happy Birthday" to him was met with a blank stare. I wonder if the phone will ring with anyone from my family to wish him sentiments for the day. This brings me more sadness. (After I wrote this - Babcia Boulware did call - HURRAY!)
He enjoys birthday parties (see picture at right from birthday #3) - with his favorite part being everyone around the table singing with the candles on the cake. My selfish grief has yet to yield way to me even plan a party. I am hoping this post will help me clear my head to get out of this funk and figure out a way to celebrate the life that is definitely worth celebrating. I am so glad to have Zach in my life, autism or not. Nothing will ever be taken for granted like I see so many others do with those they love. Autism makes you realize that life holds no guarantees, yet it also makes you realize there is plenty of reason to hope.
He is my boy wonder. He has accomplished things that I didn't think he would, yet left other things out there to still be reached. He has helped me to gain insight into others. I have a life with purpose - when I see so many floundering that way - trying to find it in things that likely won't give them the soul satisfaction they are yearning.
My short term goal: figure out a way to celebrate this day for my beautiful boy. My long term goal: I won't cry at the next birthday. Zachary: You are a joy in my life. In a world of power struggles and lies, deceit and selfishness, you find your joy in dancing to a favorite song, swinging on a swing, and chocolate - things that will likely remain unchanged- simple things that so many people ignore.
Happy 5th birthday Zach!
Posted by Leanne Morphet at 10:19 AM