"Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us- and those around us- more effectively. Look for the Learning."~Louisa May Alcott
I remember the day that my daughter made her first request. A therapist from Early Access was working with our 2 year old baby girl and, honestly, it was painful to watch. My daughter wanted a puzzle piece and the therapist kindly and gently refused my daughter her desire because she didn't use her words.
I remember sitting there feeling tortured wanting to scream at the therapist.
I was an expert (and still am) at anticipating my daughter's needs and meeting them before she had/has a chance to be uncomfortable.
I remember my daughter extending her sweet little hand and reaching for the puzzle piece. It was just out of her reach. She then began pushing at the therapist. She was getting more frustrated and more frustrated. Soon little tears welled up in her eyes. I could tell my girl was going to break down any second.
I felt so enraged inside; I wanted to shake the therapist! How dare she make my daughter cry over a puzzle piece! Honestly!! Is this really how we are going to teach her? I was quite upset! I wanted to gather my baby in my arms and shower her with puzzle pieces and hug her hurt feelings away.
I don't know how I kept my composure, but I made a huge effort to staple my mouth shut and sit on my hands. It took everything I had. I wanted nothing more than to rescue my girl (and throttle the therapist --- did I just say that?)
About the time that my daughter's tears were ready to drop on her precious baby cheek, the therapist said (for the 10th time...) "I ...want..." - the silence was deafening, but then, my baby opened her mouth and said very quietly "I.want.puzzle"
A bomb could have dropped in my living room and I wouldn't have been phased! I was so shocked to hear my daughter speak. I felt as though I couldn't breathe. In slow motion, I looked at my husband and noticed that we both were weeping. We embraced and rejoiced over what beautiful music her voice was!!
I have since wondered what would have happened if I had followed my instinct to rescue my girl. Would she be talking now?
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship"~Louisa May Alcott
It has been 3 years since that day and still my daughter has significant trouble communicating. 95% of the things she says are a form of echolalia or parroting (repeating phrases she has heard in movies, lines from books or etc).
It is heartbreaking. There is so much we want to know about our girl... what is her favorite color? Does she like her room? What does she want for her birthday? How would she like to spend a day? Where/what would she like to eat for dinner? How does she feel about things?
So many answers are locked inside our girl.
It is especially difficult when the general public are kind enough to try to interact with our girl. It might be the checker at Walmart or the greeter at church. It becomes Dan and My responsibility to "smooth things over" for these kind people so they are not embarrassed. We often tell Kylie what to say and she dutifully repeats it.
Though we did have one surprise: When we realized that Kylie was going to have difficulty with communication, we began to teach her sign language (http://www.signingtime.com/ - I can't say enough positive about this program). Kylie was a quick learner and we found that while she would not speak appropriately or in a meaningful way, she would sign. One evening, at Walmart, we were paying for our purchases when we realized that our checker was deaf. She signed to Kylie and - much to our surprise- Kylie signed back. The checker was completely shocked and it meant so much to her!!
Over the past three years, Dan and I have often wondered what Kylie's first APPROPRIATE and ORIGINAL sentence would be. Well, this past week we found out.
The three of us were in the living room and Kylie was trying to tell Dan something. He was clearly having a hard time figuring out what she was trying to say and she was quickly getting frustrated. He looked at me for help (As I care for her 24/7, I usually can follow/discern what it is she is wanting).
I realized she was saying something about "booger"... she was getting more and more animated and even I was having trouble... I finally took a step back and said "Kylie, tell Daddy what you want"... (then I prompted) "I want.." Kylie looked him right in the eye and said plain as day....
"I want booger out please!"
It was hilarious! Not only her choice of things to ask for, but the look on Dan's face when it dawned on him that she wanted him to PICK HER NOSE!!!
So THIS would be her first appropriate and original/meaningful sentence. I LOVE IT!
I am so excited for what is to come. (you can bet I am writing all of this down)
"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."~Louisa May Alcott
As I have contemplated all of these happenings in our lives I am brought back to a couple of passages that have meant so very much to me over the years. They were a comfort to me when my husband was away for weeks at a time (in the military), during the pain and lessons learned through infertility, during our adoption process, during the 6 months that Dan was unemployed and now as we walk with our Kylie experiencing Autism.
"But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it"
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life"
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee GREAT and MIGHTY things, which thou knowest not." (emphasis added)
As a believer, I have great personal faith in my God. To some, it seems simplistic, but when you have seen what I have seen.... well, let me share just one (quick) personal testimony....
When I was a teenager, my dad lost his job. I am the oldest of four children and my mom had always been a stay at home wife/mom. So, when my dad lost his job, we had no income.
I remember when thanksgiving came that year, my mom was particularly disheartened as we did not have the typical thanksgiving groceries required to prepare a traditional dinner.
We kids, were pretty unaware about what was going on, but I remember one afternoon my mom gathering us on the couch and explaining to us that we had no food for thanksgiving and that we were going to pray for a Turkey.
At the time, I initially felt a bit of shock... Thanksgiving without a turkey? and then I felt a little sheepish... we were going to pray for a turkey???
I remember making a conscious decision to go along with it and just see what would happen. (even though I didn't really believe that God would care about something so silly).
The 5 of us, my mom and we kids (age 4 to 15) lined up on our knees and asked God for food. Not just any food, but thanksgiving food - in particular- a Turkey.
When we were finished, I still felt embarrassed and rather sheepish.
We went on about our day.
That afternoon, there was a knock at our back door. It was a preacher friend of my dad's who lived really far away. My mom was completely shocked to see him and, even more so, that he had thought of us (as our paths didn't cross often). He explained that their family and church had been praying for our family and God had led them to bring us a box.
Yes, you guessed it... In that box was everything we needed to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner - especially a turkey.
My faith changed that day.
I saw that the Great BIG GOD we serve cares about the insignificant, silly, desires of our hearts. That GREAT BIG GOD made sure that HIS KIDS had a turkey for thanksgiving.
If God cared about a turkey, how can I doubt that he cares for my family now? God knows what our Kylie experiences. He hasn't forgotten about us. He is working to show us "GREAT and MIGHTY things" that we cannot even fathom.
He even loves us enough to give us a bit of blessed laughter in the form of Kylie asking Dan to pick her nose! My GOD has a sense of humor - and we will laugh about that for years to come!
Thank you God for your GIFTS (even if they are in the form of a turkey and boogers)!!