here's my thankful post!
Ten. Ten months! It has been 10 months since G started his early intervention. The method they use is Early Start Denver Model which uses the main components of ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy and establishes small piece-by-piece measurable goals for teaching and achievement and relationship based therapy. Gavin has been fortunate enough to have the same interventionist since the beginning. She has been by his side 4 days a week, 2 hours a day for 10 months now. She will forever hold a special place in our hearts when this chapter of G's life comes to an end and he ages out of the early intervention program. I really hope he remembers her. I need to get some pictures of them together. This early intervention has had the most amazing impact on G and on how Ryan and I parent and help Gavin. I sometimes feel like I'm more a therapist than a mother to Gavin, but more often I feel like I am actually having precious moments with my child that I was missing prior to this intervention.
A year ago G wasn't even talking. If prompted enough times verbally and visually he would repeat the word "Keys", but it wasn't natural or spontaneous speech. Now he is speaking 4 word sentences. Tonight he says, "Dada go in gym". Last night when leaving the grocery store we saw a dog in the back of a truck. I pointed out the dog and Gavin said, "Dog in truck. Dog in Blue Truck." Even more precious, today we were playing hide and seek. We were hiding around the couch and I was on hands and knees crawling as fast as I could to get away from him and hide. No bueno on hard wood floors! No bueno! The discomfort and floor burn was worth the giggles and laughs. We were pretending to be airplanes, dancing to Elmo and Sesame Street songs on Pandora. We were pillow jumping off the couch and playing "Tickle Gavin". As soon as I'd stop, he'd want more. He was alive and I was alive as a parent, albeit exhausted from spinning and jumping and dancing around with absurd amounts of energy and animation in my actions and face to help Gavin become more excited and thus motivated to imitate me. Its exhausting and probably slightly embarrassing, but for this little man, I WILL DO ANYTHING!
People games (those that require an adult's interaction in order for the child to play) are highly motivating to Gavin and almost all children with Autism. From the Hanen "More Than Words" class that Ryan and I have been taking we have learned the significance of these games in prompting conversation and language with Gavin and increasing social skills. If you want that kid to make eye contact with you (something he has been significantly lacking) get physical with him or play "where's Gavin" or hide and seek and you won't be able to stop him from looking at you, engaging with you, and verbally asking for more. He comes alive and the tools we have learned from intervention and More Than Words has helped us to extend these moments on and progress them farther. Its a beautiful thing to engage with your child and before all of this, 10 months ago, those moments were few and far between. Everyday, multiple times a day.
While we were playing the song "Fix You" by Coldplay came on Pandora. Its the song that plays with the Autism video I blogged about here. So naturally it reminded me of that video. Moments later I realized all of the healing that has been going on. I realized how much progress G has been making. I'm so in the thick of it and so entrenched in the small little goals that I forget the much bigger ones and how much closer he has come to achieving them. Let me remind you, a year ago he was saying NOTHING he wouldn't look into your eyes for the life of him, not even if you offered him a room full of trucks and chocolate. Now he is a chatter box and is becoming more and more aware of the world and people around him and talking about it. He can tell me what he wants and when he starts to get frustrated and throw a fit I can tell him to use his words and he will 9 out of 10 times stop and tell me what he wants. He says hi to the person standing behind us in line at the store and starts talking to them about his "monster truck, vroom, vroom". Yes, he still has more progress to make and will have more challenges come as he grows, but he is making progress and engaging and that amazing! It is all about small steps and improvement. Forward motion is key!!
I have no intention of "curing" G of autism, but I am determined to help him grow and overcome as many barriers as he can so that he can be as happy and successful in life as possible. It has been 10 glorious and miraculous months and I thank the Lord for them. He has been good to us and I have faith that he will continue to bless Gavin and our family! It is amazing how we are so limited in our perspective and understanding of life and its challenges. What is often viewed as catastrophic can in time and with the Lord's hands become miraculous!
Update: This is just a glimpse into G's progress. He has also been blessed with an amazing Occupational Therapist who has been helping him with his sensory integration issues, and fine and gross motor delays. He has also been receiving Speech Therapy throughout the past 9 months as well. We have been so blessed with people who love and encourage G along. He also has been in a playgroup for kids with developmental delays for 2 months now and has finally come to the point where it is the highlight of his week. He is learning to parallel play with his peers and is having little moments of true genuine engagement with his own peers. This is all in preparation for beginning preschool when he is 3, which will be a whole new chapter for us.