The one thing I’ve learned about having children is to never underestimate their abilities. The same can be said of a child on the spectrum. There is always room for growth. There is always room for progress. It isn’t going to be easy. There will be tears, from them and from you. You will always second guess what you are doing but hold strong and follow your gut.
The times you will cry for your child and with your child will be numerous. You cling to every hope for a future for your child. That’s every parent. A parent with special needs children has special fears and struggles but that doesn’t make them any less important. YOU are important. If you believe in your child there is one less person they have to convince.
A year ago we pushed Em. A year ago we fought with Em. A year ago I cried for Em. I still do this to this day. It’s over different things now than it was before. This girl wouldn’t read. She wouldn’t take initiative. She wouldn’t move. She just wanted to sit and stare at a TV or computer screen. Yet, with some pushing and prodding she did move and start to do different things. And for all that time on the computer there came a benefit; she increased her comprehension and understanding when she read. That and she started to ENJOY reading.
Fast forward one year. If someone would have told me a year ago that Em would be BEGGING to go to the library ON HER OWN to check out a movie or a book, I’d have burst into tears and cried because I couldn’t see it. Where we were last year, I wouldn’t have seen library visits or her and her brother getting along. Where we were last year, I couldn’t envision a possibility of my being able to work away from the home. Where we were last year, I wouldn’t be able to picture her reading for enjoyment.
The progress made in one year sometimes it isn’t noticeable until you take a break and look back at life. We try to not live in the past or where she’s been, but it’s important for us to see how far she’s come from time to time. Especially when regression hits or it’s a very stressful time for her full of struggles. That’s when we point out the accomplishments she’s made.
Today, right now, she is starting to get initiatives to make plans to go out and do something. She is forcing herself out of her comfort zone in hopes of making friends and being able to show others that she isn’t as different as they are. She still has moments when she feels left out but she is getting better at shrugging it off. She is also getting better at saying no and explaining that she can’t handle the noise or chaos of a party or group outing. She is even willing to drive in the van distances and try to not let it wear her down so much. Can she control that? No. But she pushes through the discomfort as much as she can until she’s at home.
The one thing we stress here is that there is always hope and we always love. We strive for growth and hope and lots of love. We live that here every day. What will tomorrow bring? Like any other family, I don’t know. It’s a day by day walk here. We hope that we see more progression than regression but no matter what, we will love her and embrace her and support her as we can. Which is what family is to us in our house.