Don't worry, mama. I got this.
Today Daddy put little dude on the bus for school with a back pack full of paper work for the school district's psychologist. She will be observing him today and deciding if he qualifies for an individualized education plan (I.E.P.). And if I know my boy like I think I do, he will charm the hell out of her. And I am also certain that she will be side eyed, sauntered to and spoken to in Panstinese. There was a time when testing made me insane with worry
. What if they think something is wrong with him? What if they think I'm a crappy parent. What if they find out that he still sleeps with us and try to tell us that he's too big for that? What if they judge him for still needing a bubba to get to sleep? There's something super awesome about not caring about that stuff anymore. As I filled out the seven hundred and fifty million questions about my kid, Daddy and I couldn't help but laugh. "When you say 'seven, two', does your child repeat the sequence back to you?". Ummm, no. He looked at me like I was from Mars as if to say, "Mom, you are so wrong. It's seven, eight". "When you look in the mirror and say 'Where's Mr. Pants?', does your child point to his image in the mirror?". Ummmm, no. He points to his car and says, "CAR!".
"When you ask your child, 'Are you a boy or a girl', does he respond correctly". Bwahahaha! Um, no. He stared at me blankly and proclaimed himself a robot. And on and on and on.
Daddy and I ended up laughing so hard about some of the questions that we actually cried. Our kid cracks us the eff up. I mean, he saunters around here like he's the king of the place and he kind of is. What a world away that is from how we felt about all the other testing. How we were so nervous and scared that our boy was different. That in some way he would be treated differently by the world. By his peers. Because he is different.
But he has taught us something that I now will apply to his entire life. He taught me to trust him. He taught me to stop being such an adult and just let go of his reins a bit. That he had a plan. And I can see his plan so clearly now. His plan is to just be himself. With an astounding amount of confidence. To saunter around and do his thing. And you know what? Things are happening for him. He's made a friend. A kid his age that he chose to be his friend. A little boy at school. Apparently they've been considering friendship for seven months now. Watching each other. Studying each other. And recently they took the big step of becoming friends. And now they can not be seperated. I can not even express what that does to me. It makes my face hurt from smiling about it. There was a time when I was unsure that he could make friends outside of his family (and his best friend cousin, A). But as it turns out, I just had to let him do his thing. And he is most definitely doing his thing.
Does it make me an A-hole for being giddy about the "popular" part?
So bring it on, new testing! Mr. Pants is more than ready. He's blossomed so much in this last year. He's come into his own. In his own time. With a little help from his family and his awesome teachers. But mostly it's all him. He's got this in the bag. And sure, he probably needs this I.E.P. for a little bit, but it aint no thing. It just means he will have a chance to keep kicking ass at pre-school. It means that he will have the speech and occupational therapy help he needs and the social interaction that has pulled him out of his solitary man (Neil Diamond
!) shell. He believes in himself. I can see it. And as his mama, I can not think of anything I want more for him than that. He really believes in himself. Hot damn, that is awesome.
Saunter on, little man. Saunter on. Mama and Daddy are cheering for you. Now go show that psychologist how it's done in your world. I have a feeling she's gonna get a kick out of you. It's kind of impossible not to.
[image source: http://www.screened.com]
Say what? Now if you have a preschooler you probably know the show Yo Gabba Gabba
. The cast is a strange band of weirdo foam characters (that I have come to create some wildly inappropriate back stories for. I mean, I can't be the only one that thinks Foofa
is actually the mascot for a tampon company, right?). And then there is DJ Lance Rock, the ringleader, who seems to have snorted something right before every show and dances like Lady Miss Keir
(I do love him for that). Mr. Pants calls him, "daddy!". But dang, if that show hasn't pulled my lil guy from his non English speaking prison. It's nuts. I have been resistant (hostile towards?) to the show, as I am a Henson fan through and through. The Muppets and Sesame Street hold my heart. But it seems that Mr. Pants has other interests. And they involve six foot tall foam alien types. So the time has come for me to surrender and admit that Yo Gabba Gabba just might be sent from heavan. Let me explain.
Try it! You'll like it!
Try It! You'll Like It!. This regular tune is sung by the gang to encourage kids to try new foods. The hook is annoying and they dance around looking uncomfortable in their enormous costumes while trying new foods. But Mr. Pants has taken it as scripture and is obeying their directive. After two years of trying to get him to try anything beyond his five staples, it is this silly song that has resonated with him. And just this week he has tried four new foods and right before he does, he sings, "Ty ih. Yoo ike ih!". And hot sauce. The kid now loves hot sauce. Mama is so proud. Point, YGG.
And then there is the creepster Brobee. That thing is just weird. His arms are too long and he has a unibrow. He's short and his voice sounds akin to nails on a chalkboard. But dang if that Brobee isn't the most influential "person" in my child's life. If Brobee says jump, then that's that. Jumping it is. Just like Brobee, Mr. Pants is obsessed with creating a party in his tummy (So yummy! So yummy!). And parties in the tummy include fruits and veggies. And Brobee is a bit meloncholy (suck it up, Brobee!). He's always misinterpreting things and feeling sorry for himself. All of the other characters must then teach him that he is loved. And while that is annoying to me, it seems as though this is exactly how Mr. Pants is learning empathy. And how to be sweet with his sister. She was crying the other day, he leaned over to her gave her an arm rub and said, "yoo mall? Doe Ky" (you small? don't cry). Straight from Brobee's desires to be as big as everyone else. Point, Brobee.
They are my family...
YGG has also taught him not to bite with the song "Don't Bite Your Friends!" (Doe doe doe buy a FAN!!). They have taught him how to say "Sorry", although I'm not sure he really means it. When he's sleepy he sings about it being naptime and just yesterday I caught him singing the "Don't Give Up" song which encourages you to keep trying. "Kee tying! Kee tying! Doe ih yup. Doe ih yup!".
But it was this morning that sealed the deal.
Last night, we watched a YGG episode all about families. This morning Mr. Pants found my Care Bears. I recently got them back from my mom. The ones I played with as a little girl. I washed them up and put them in the closet so that I could give them to Ms. Plum someday. Mr. Pants found them and fell in love. I was snapping pictures of him, all the while thinking of a potential post about how we shouldn't teach our kids to only play with gender specific toys, when he looked up at me. Holding as many bears in his arms as he could, he said, "Ba-min-ee! Oh, doe Ky!" and he kissed the bear and held it tighter. The last part was "Oh don't cry". Then he said the first part again. "Ba-min-ee!". My eyes sprung a leak. I realized he was saying "family". A little emotional, I responded "where's the sister?". He paused and took the littlest bear over to Ms. Plum, set it next to her and said, "Ipster". Yep. And now I'm a wreck.
Point, Mr. Pants.
So I surrender to you, Yo Gabba Gabba. It would seem that your influence over my boy is a good one. You have done what no amount of pestering from me could. You've broken this kid out of his shell. Point, YGG.
Now if I could get get that Brobee dude to come poop in our potty. I am thinking that is the only thing that will convince Mr. Pants to give that a whirl.
Something out of sight has happened to Mr. Pants. The long awaited and much anticipated language EXPLOSION! Happy dance! He's even got a few choice catchphrases and he seems to be loving his new found glimpse of what it's like to speak the English language and be understood. I am over the moon. We have waited and waited for this. And it is awesome. The look he gets when he realizes that I have heard and understood his request (demand?) is killer. His eyes get wide and he repeats it fifty times. I love it. It's interesting though that some of his words come with diction that sounds as though he is without teeth, while other words come out clear as a bell. Often in the same exchange. My personal favorites are "Day doo" (thank you) and "Yooo Wellll-commme". One, the babble of a toothless child, the other, perfect. So awesome.
Once he figures out a phrase, he runs with it. A highlight would be his over use of the words "no" and "way". "Mr. Pants are you ready for bed?", "NO WAY!". "Let's put your coat on", "NO WAAAY!!!". "Wanna try putting your poop in the potty?", "No WAY!!". "Would you like a banana?", "NO WAAAY!". "What's that?", "No WAY!". Most No Way!'s are accompanied by a dramatic run to the back of the house. Even if dramatic running isn't called for. But I guess when you are two and three quarters, dramatic running is always called for. The commitment he gives to his run down the hall to collapse onto his bed is inspiring. And I am recalling making those very same trips as a child. Good times.
But Mr. Pants, we need to chat about something...
I see you little dude. That intricate system of transfering toys from the living room to your room is fooling no one. Those buckets, dump trucks and totes that line the hallway and into your room? The toy conveyor belt? I'll give you that it's really very clever. But you can not take every single toy in the house and hide it from your sister. Even if you stake your claim by proclaiming, "Mine!". It's a thing. Saying that it's yours, doesn't always make it so. It's against the law, dude. I'm gonna have to put my foot down on this one. She gets to play too. It's funny because you have never once played with the lizard that sings in three languages. Not once. Or the clicking hippo. They have always been beneath you. But Plum takes interest and suddenly they are your favorite toys? I smell a rat, dude.
Also, I think we need to work on something. Some clarification is needed. When you say "My turn!", the sound is music to my ears. But, I think you may be a little confused as to the meaning of the word "turn". The word means that there is sharing taking place. That one person waits while the other takes some time to play with the coveted toy. Or, the turn. So when it is always your turn, the concept is not working. And just to be fair, yes you do hand the toy over and I appreciate that, but you never actually take your hands off of it before declaring it to be yours again. That doesn't count as giving a turn, bud. So let's work on that.
Third, my son, I need to talk to you about when it is appropriate to say "Wha Happen?". When I come out from putting your sister to sleep and your rolling around on the floor covered in parmesan cheese, the words, "What happened?" don't really fit. You happened, my love. You happened to the parmesan cheese. The cheese never stood a chance. And now the house smells like farts. Same thing goes for when you tip your sister over. When mama sees you do it and you respond with "Wha happen?", it doesn't work. It may serve you well to learn a great old standby for these occasions. One we are going to work on. Next up? "I'm sorry".
But all of that said, no amount of dramtic running or screaming, "UP! DOWN!" seventy two times is gonna make me want you to stop talking. Because for so long I was so afraid that you might not talk at all. That I would never hear your sweet voice say "Mama" or "Ish (itch) a ma butt!". But you do say those things and they still sound as sweet as the first time I heard you say them. So bear with me when I tell you a million times a day that I love you. Because I'm kind of dying to hear you say that to me (No pressure). And I can take it when you shhh me and tell me to "be Ki-et!" because I'm whispering in your ear as you watch DJ Lance Rock and his creepy troup of possessed styrofoam toys sing about parties in their tummies ( a song you know by heart). Yes sir, I can take it. Because one of these days, you will say it back. And it feels amazing to be absolutely sure of that.
You are kicking ass, Mr. Pants. Keep on talking. I promise I will keep listening.
He is about 2 seconds from telling me to be "Kiet" in this pic. Ingrate.
The beginning of a love affair
It occured to me the other day that there is a clear moment when Mr. Pants began his love affair with the duck species
. It was in September when we first met Miss MB. She came for her first visit with Mr. Pants from the Early Head Start
program. I had been telling her that Mr. Pants only spoke in Pantsinese and that he had only five or six English words. As we talked, she pulled from her bag a duck with goggles on. And with an air of nonchalance, Mr Pants said, "DUCK!". I almost peed my pants. He said a word! And she was so excited for him. She let him keep the duck.
Six years ago, I was working in the shelter as an advocate for children when I was approached to be a part of the Policy Council board over at Head Start. I was happy to say yes and spent the next three years going to monthly meetings as a Community Representative. At the time, I knew that many of the families that I worked with had children in the program. I knew that they helped low income and at risk kids get a jump start on their education through a well researched curriculums for the pre-school set. I knew that homeless families received priority (deservedly) and I knew that it was a Federal program. But there was a lot I had yet to learn.
Over the coarse of those three years, I was impressed to find that Head Start puts a lot of stock in the belief that parents are their children's lifelong teachers and that supporting the relationships within that child's family is the most important tool they have to help a child learn. It's brilliant really. Support the family, strengthen a caregiver's confidence in their abilities, care about the whole family not just testing and classroom projects. See the bigger picture. And to boot, they make their program accessible. I mean it's not rocket science that, when you are serving low income families, there are barriers to family participation. Childcare and transportation are the biggest. So, Head Start will come to you through home visitors. Or they will bus your kid to school. They also plan meetings for parents that include free childcare and social events for families that include free dinner for everyone. It's these seemingly little things that make this program extraordinary. Take away the barriers and parents are free to be involved in their child's education.
But see, it's this last six months that have taught me all I ever really needed to know about Head Start. Because now, I am a mama to a little boy who needs them. Most surprising to me was that I needed Head Start too. I had no idea six years ago that I would have a son with a severe speech and language delay. Or a son with sensory integration issues. Or a son who is at risk for OCD. Or that he would need evaluated because he was exhibiting traits similair to those found in kids with autism. I had no idea back then, what the Head Start program really and truly was all about. But today I do. Today I know that it is a lifeline. It is a desperately needed connection for both kids and parents. Because being a child who has developmental delays, learning diabilities or physical limitations is really really hard. It is stressful and confusing. Being a parent of that child is really hard too. We blame ourselves and often feel less than adequate to help our kids. It can be isolating. But because Early Head Start exists, every tuesday morning, I know that MB, our Early Head Start home visitor, is coming. And she will listen to me and help me understand my kid better. And she will try and help him talk. That's almost two hours a week where I get to watch and learn from someone. I learn new techniques and brainstorm ideas. And she helps me to understand all the tests and doctors. She helps prepare me for what to expect so that when I arrive with Mr. Pants at an appointment, I am ready to be the best advocate for my child. She is a lifeline. And let me tell you, Mr. Pants LOVES her. He even makes every attempt to stay dressed when she is here. That's love.
So, everytime I catch Mr. Pants quietly looking at a book or counting to thirteen, I say a thank you to Head Start (and our county board of developmental disabilities). Everytime he looks to me and screams, "Heeeeep!!" (help), I say thank you to MB, because she sat right here in my living room for weeks teaching him how to do just that. And when he did it, she was so proud of him. And he was proud of himself. That kind of awesome, makes all of this hard work worth it. To see pride on my boy's face. It's a wonderful feeling. So thank you MB and thank you, Head Start. This mama, sees all of the amazing work you do everyday and I couldn't be more grateful that you threw us a lifeline. I'm certain you don't hear it often enough. But you make a difference. The best kind of difference. You change people's lives for the better.
Painting himself. And keeping it respectable by wearing some unders when Miss MB comes around.
I fall a little more in love with my kid every single day.
But today, he got double points. Because he is a rock star. This was our morning.
10:00 am : We arrive in the parking deck. When your kid is obssessd with cars, parking decks are like Disney World. Mr. Pants becomes overwhelmed with his need to point to every single car and yell, "Cah-er!". Then we walk behind a conversion van and his mind is blown. He looks to me as if to say, "Mama, what is that effing amazing and glorious thing?". I tell him, "That's a van
, bud". "Maaaan", he says. "Maaaaaaan" and laughs a maniacal "someday I will own an enormous van and live in it because nothing I have seen in all my days is as amazing as this" laugh. The van was the cherry on the parking deck cake and Mr. Pants can no longer be bothered to point out every single car on the way to the elevators. Thank Jesus.
10:02 am : In the elevator, when it stops, Mr. Pants grabs his penis as though it may have made him pee a bit. He looks at me and laughs.
10:10 am: We arrive at the desk to check in and Mr Pants takes a seat, opens his juice box and begins to drink and flirt with the receptionist. Closing his eyes and smiling with his head tilted to the side and then going on long rants in Pantsinese. Such a cheese ball.
10:14 am - Mr. Pants attempts to board an elevator without me. Little punk.
10:20 am - I decide I have the best
little boy in the world when another two year old in the waiting room attempts to assault Mr. Pants. My sweet angel looks to this unruly child, says, "Whoa, whoa, whoa" and walks away.
10:20 and 14 seconds - Mr. Pants throws a magazine at the little boy, turns to me and says, "Uh oh!" as though he has no idea how that happened.
10:25 am - We are ushered back to the room for his tests. The room is essentially a double wide elevator with carpeted walls and black boxes on the walls. And a chair. One chair. I fear we have entered a torture chamber and Mr. Pants' mood tells me he has the same fear. He proceeds to monkey climb me until I am holding him close. Thankfully they let me and I can hold him during the whole thing. The first few tests involved probes in his ears and sticky conductor thingy's (electrodes?) that he didn't much appreciate but he tolorated pretty well. Aside form the face twitching and side eyeing, he seemed not tooooo
stressed. There were a few moments there where he grunted and I was a bit worried. He was definitely uncomfortable but he didn't seem to be in pain so I controlled my urge to rip them off, scream profanities and run.
10:50 am - Let the creepy room test begin! The audiologist leaves the room. I'm holding him on my lap in the center when from the abyss we hear, "Mr. Paaaaaaants!". Might have been the voice of God. He looks to me like, "What the shit?" and I have to remain unphased and give no clues. He looks in the direction of the voice and bells and lights go off and the black box lights up. Inside the black box is an insano pig and it's oink-ing like it just freebased cocaine. I can not begin to tell you how creepy this pig was. I am sure to have nightmares. Then, from the other side of the room, "Miiiisssster Paaaants
!" and he looks to the sound which triggers the bells and whistles and lights and another box lights up with a damn mutant duck in it. I can not help at this point but think that they are brainwashing us. Mr. Pants is getting irritated with all this nutso business and tries to flee from my lap. Now, I have been told to keep him there. But um, this kid is Bruce Lee. Small package, major strength. I am struggling to keep him on my lap when....right friggin in front of us a light shines on a hot pink bunny playing a drum set and vibrating. Um yep, that got his attention. He sat for a bit longer and played along. I suspect out of fear that that satanic bunny was going to come to life again. The sound got quieter each time and he heard it all. Then it was just a series of white noise. He heard that too. Bored again he tried to fight his way off my lap. Yep, you guessed it. That freak of a bunny lit up to play it's possessed drumset. Problem solved. Child sufficiently brainwashed to sit when he sees a bunny playing drums. A few more noises and bells and whistles and then nothing. Mr. Pants ninja slips off my lap and assumes position on his back on the floor, legs on the wall. A perfect ninety degree angle in front of the door. I try to move him so that the doctor can come in. He does not appreciate this at all and begins pinballing off the walls like, well..like a pinball. This is his way of saying, "Just you try and make me do one. more. thing. I will go crazed tiny person up in here!". So thankfully the test is over. Or is it?
11:10 am - Thankfully, yes it is. The audiologist comes in to give me the results. He hears normally. I breath a big sigh of relief. She does tell me that he has negative pressure behind his eardrum. This is only a problem if fluid starts to collect there. It can also make for rougher resperatory illnesses. It is more than likely caused by enlarged adnoids and she recomended we follow up down the road with an ENT. He's gonna be one of those kids that needs their tonsils and adnoids out. But that's it. He hears beautifully. Back to the drawing board...
11:15 am - Tired of our bullshit, Mr. Pants attempts to climb the carpeted walls. Literally. I make a mental note to someday introduce him to The Roter
and wonder if he will be into it.
11:16ish- We are done. And we are lost in the halls of Children's hospital. Mr Pants is skeptical about the intentions of the Staples delivery man who is wheeling a large amount of paper products behind us. He side eyes him and growls. The Staples man says, "Hey there" and Mr. Pants gives him the cold shoulder.
11:20 - I find our way out of the labrynth and we emerge into paradise once again. The parking deck. Mr. Pants points to every single car, van and truck parked bewteen the elevators and our car. "Cah-er!". "Cah-er". "Cah-er". "Yes, a car", I say fifty three times. Then he sees our car and he says, "A doe" which is Patsinese for, "there you go". He hops in, grabs blue duck from the car floor and happily settles in for the ride home.
I couldn't love this kid anymore if I tried. He did amazing and he cracked me up the whole time. We will figure this all out. But for now, we get to cross hearing problems off the list. And that's a good thing.
Moments after the waiting room scuffle, he finds the fish tank.
I've been looking back at the year a lot these last few weeks. I think everyone does that. Just going through all of the different ways that the year changed us. The gifts it gave. Good and bad. We have known great joy this year and also great sorrow. Such is life right? At this time last year Ms. Plum was still baking away and we hadn't yet been told that Pants could be on the autism spectrum. These things were yet to come. And we had hopes and dreams for the bright and shining year of 2011 like I now have for 2012. I wonder what it will hold? I know though that no matter what, we have been given gifts from this past year that we get to keep. Not gifts wrapped up in paper and bows. But lessons and stories. Hugs and kisses. Naked butt prints on my windows, dancing and singing. Learning each other better and growing our relationships as a family. So the next few posts I will be updating the progress our family has made....
What better place to start than with Mr. Pants?
So here we are. Mr. Pants has a few handfuls of words. Three of which really help us out too! I will never get tired of hearing him yell, "HUN-REE!!!!!" like a drunken frat boy searching for his leftover burrito everytime the kid wants a snack. Because he is telling me that he is hungry and I wished and wished and hoped and prayed that he would be able to do that. Now I just have to work with him on maybe bringing it down a decibel or seven because he really does sound quite ridiculous and a little primitive when he uses his three need words. "HELP!!!!!", "HUN-REE!!!" and "BOOOOOOOOOP!!". The latter being a race against time to get to him before the diaper is off and he is walking around bow legged trying to peer through his legs at the poop on his butt, all the while screaming, "HELP!!!". Yeah, dude. I know you need help. That's why I'd like you to not take your diaper off before I am at your service, wipes in hand. I might have mentioned before that kids are gross. The lovliest part is that, while I didn't think it was possible, he seems to only be getting grosser with time.
His pattern behaviors are still there and they are getting more elaborate. On Christmas Eve it involved both floors of my sister in law's house. Touch the train on the first floor, say "bye bye" to the train (again, in the tone of a drunken frat boy being kicked out of the bar and yelling "bye bye" on the way out), open the gate to the stairs, close the gate, go down 3 steps holding the wall, move to the other side on step four and hold the railing, Pick up car at bottom of steps, run to the TV in the basement and put down the car, pick the car back up, leave the car on the bottom stairs and head back up, open gate, close gate, head to train to start again.....he did this about thirty times. They are not always this elaborate, though. And it seems they get more complicated when he is stressed or in an unfamiliar environment or tired. At home he is more relaxed, so they are much more simple. Line up the foam letters, walk them like a balance beam, put them back in the bag, repeat. So goal number one (after finding a new speech therapist, so I guess that makes it goal number two), is helping him pare them down to a manageable size when he is feeling uncomfortable. Some of our other goals include; putting two words together, a successful dentist visit (I just had a mini stroke just thinking about it. Is he too young for them to gas him?), wearing clothes more often, eating a variety of foods and conquering the almighty potty. Normal two year old stuff.
We have some things to work on, but man this kid is blowing me away with the strides he is already making. He licked an orange! Sure, he immediately made a face as though it was the grossest pile of poo, but he tried it! He is counting and he knows his letters (Genius!). He plays with his cousins and he is naming family members. He loves his school and he gets so excited to put on his backpack and get on the bus. His new occupational therapist is his favorite and he is learning to float in the pool. I recently met with his teachers for a review of his progress these last six months and his receptive communication (what he understands) has jumped up to just under two years old! His expressive communication (what he can speak) is around twelve to eighteen months. This is up from 8 months! I am so proud of the work he is doing and so grateful to his teachers and therapists. But my favorite thing that he did recently came on Christmas Eve. Bundled up and in the car after the candlelight service, he reached over and held his sister's hand. Just held her hand. And she laughed and laughed. And he smiled. Knowing he was making her happy. That was better than any test result or achievment. His expressions of love beyond those for Daddy and I are coming more and more. He is becoming more comfortable with his extended family. Sitting in his Grandpa's lap. Giving Grandma a kiss. Hugging his aunties and uncles. Throwing some high fives. They have been around his whole life, waiting for him to be comfortable with showing them affection. Never pushing him. Patiently waiting. And he is ready now. What a difference a year makes.
It's so interesting to me to be around other people's two and haf year olds and hear them talking. Putting together sentances and concepts. Yelling out their needs and being understood. I don't take it personally that Mr. Pants isn't there yet but I do sometimes wish that he wasn't so far behind his peers. I was talking to daddy about this the other day and we both agreed that when the day comes that Pants no longer speaks in Pantsinese, we will miss it. We talked about how when he is older we will tell him stories about how he spoke his very own language and that we loved it. Even if we never understood it. And then we will pull out the videos of him talking his way out of bedtime or chatting up his people on the bottle phone. We will show all of his loves these videos as he blushes and wants to die from embarrassment. That's what good parents do.
It was this week that the realization that Pantsinese is becoming less and less prominent and words, actual English words, are starting to form and become regular chatting material. He has been delighting in naming things. He is requesting (demanding?) snacks by shouting and pointing "Ah Neeeeee!". It took us weeks to figure out that he was saying "I need". He has put together a few choice phrases too. "No no, Loya!" comes out when Ms. Plum is attempting to snatch a toy from him or "bye bye daddy!" or "de ah go!" when he gives you something. My new fave is "OK!" when I ask him to do something. It's a beautiful thing to hear. And he is super proud of himself. I can see a very specific light in his eyes when he realizes that we have understood him. He gets so excited and tries to start naming everything in the room "Cahhr!", "EhMo!", "Eye!". So we have been working so hard on naming and repeating. Nothing too complicated. Just very simple naming and repeating.
So then, you can imagine what happened in my heart on tuesday when he counted to thirteen. I shit you not. My kid, who doesn't talk, counted to flipping THIRTEEN! MB, our Head Start home visitor, was here working with him and she gave him a snack. Little Lorna Doone cookies and juice box. Mr. Pants went straight to work taking them all out of the package and lining them up in a perfect straight line. Then he blew us away. "One, twoooo, teee, fo, figh,sik,sehen,eigh,nine, teh, evan,telp,hurty". And he didn't just count. He pointed to each one and correctly named the number that belonged to them. Distinguishing between cookie number two and cookie number three. My eyes teared up. Did that just happen? I looked to MB and she had a look on her face that said, "amazing". I asked her if I had heard what I thought I did. "Yep. He did. And that's amazing", she said with pride in her voice. I asked her if two and half year olds should be able to do that and she said, "Counting sure, but actually assigning correct numbers and pointing to each one?". That was kind of mind blowing for a kiddo his age.
So it is clear that we, in fact, have a genius on our hands. Obviously. I have the smartest two year old ever born. And yeah, I am only half serious about that but after last night, I just might really think it. Because as I was pointing out colors of the Christmas tree lights and trying to get him to name them for me (he refused all but yellow), he looked at me for a second like he was really in deep thought, stood up, sauntered over to the TV and spelled out SONY. A little backwards but exactly right. "oh,why,ess,ehhn", he said as he pointed to the corresponding letter. I peed a little in my pants and thought to myself, "Are you for real, kid? Did you seriously just poo poo my colors lesson and one up me by frigging SPELLING?". I put my head down so that he would not see the tears in my eyes. I didn't want him to think that him spelling made me sad. I pulled my shit together and looked up and gave him the biggest grin and encouraged him to do it again. "Where's the S?", he pointed to the S. and on and on. He did it again. And when he felt that I was excited, he got excited too and he laughed and giggled and tackled me. Ow. My little Einstien.
She called...and emailed me the report. And oh man, it's good news. We have a long road ahead for sure (I'll explain in a bit) but for now (and hopefully forever) autism is off the mother effing table!!!! At least for the next year to eighteen months. If you could only see my enormous and ridiculous grin. It hurts my face. When I talked with her over the phone she indicated that she didn't get "an autism feel" from Mr. Pants. And that in her opinion, Mr Pants has a severe speech and language disorder that is affecting his congnitive development. She acknowledged his sensory issues and believe they are playing into it as well. And his repetitive behaviors put him at risk for OCD. All of those together, she believes, are creating the other behaviors that are presenting concerns similair to kids on the autism spectrum. Two things are keeping him from receiving a diagnosis of autism. Those two things are eye contact and reciprocal social behaviors (ie: he totally shows love, gives love and desires love. And all of those other emotions too like happiness, sadness, anger and excitement). He tested within the spectrum for three of the five catagories but WAY off the spectrum for those two and because they need to be on the spectrum for all five catagories, autism has been ruled out. For now. The year between two and three is critical though and we will need to be mindful of his progress and skill aquisition. We need to be sure he isn't losing skills after he masters them. That would be bad and we would need to have him re-evaulated sooner should that happen. BUT (and it's an enormous BUT), Doc doesn't think that will be an issue with him. She really doesn't. And oh my good gravy it is making me insane with excitement! See my biggest fear for my baby boy was that he would be ostracized by his peers for being unable to connect socially. That he would be treated differently. Cruelly. For something that he could not help or understand. And while I know this could always still happen, I am so effing grateful that it won't be because he can not make friends. And that if it does happen to him, he will be able to communicate his feelings and accept support and help. He doesn't have to be popular or even involved in school activities. That stuff will never matter to me. My wish for him is that he will be able to grow a relationship with his baby sister, make a friend at school and someday find an emotional connection in a partnership with whomever he loves. And oh boy, the tears are flowing as I write this. All signs point to he will be able to (HELL YES!). I'm a happy mess.
So now we have to ramp up the therapy. It's time to kick it up several notches. He is communicating below the first percentile for kids his age. And that's just about as bad as it can get for a kid without autism. We need to help his growing brain make more connections and keep them and place all of our efforts on developing his expressive and receptive communcation. And this doesn't mean just words or speaking English. This means all of the facets of communication. Speaking, relaying ideas, understanding concepts, distinguishing between objects and understanding nuance. We have some work to do! Hopefully as his ability to communicate grows, his stress responses (the OCD stuff: opening & closing, tuning out, patterns etc) will diminish. Fingers crossed. He seems to be dealing very well with his vestibular and other sensory issues (but I totally knew that). Something that stood out is that they believe that his vision is affected somehow. So that's on the list of things to get evaluated now too. Wouldn't I feel like an asshat if he's needed glasses this whole time? Aaaaaand, my brain hurts. It's a lot to take in, because my mama heart stops at "not autism" and swoons. But we have work to do. And I have no doubt that Mr. Pants is up for this challange. And his mama and daddy will be right there cheering him on. But for today and the next few days, I'm just gonna play and snuggle with my boy. Who I am so proud of. And it never mattered what was coming in the report, no amount of anything was gonna change that.
Since we began this journey that lil dude is on, I have received so many contacts and messages of encouragement . So I want to thank everyone who is rooting for my boy. Thank you so so so much. He is a wild little guy who is funny and exceptional. And it makes my heart swoon that others see his light too.