2014. Where has it gone. It was just a blink of an eye and we were starting the grassroots campaign to spread knowledge of our book and Em was just starting to exhibit a confidence I only dreamed of for her. She started to advocate for herself and set her own limits and boundries.
Things like a 6th grade camp away from home with obstacles we weren’t sure she’d overcome or auditioning and acting in a play seemed like unattainable dreams for her. They forced her to interact with others and challenge herself to overcome her comfort zone, insecurities, and sensory issues.
New foods were always a wish and never a try and see if we like kind of thing. Reading for enjoyment seemed out of the question. Allowing someone to brush her hair and put it up and put make up on her for any reason wasn’t going to happen except in a faded memory of a dream. And me working and not being here for her 24/7 scared the daylights out of me.
And yet, here I sit. Typing about all these things, realizing that when I pinch myself. Nothing has changed. There is a lot of progress She advocates for herself. She did go to camp and she did well. She auditioned for the play and did fairly well considering. She even auditioned for the musical and took disappointment better than any of us expected. She also had solos in the the choir concerts this fall and winter.
She’s advocating for herself. Challenging herself to try new foods and if she likes it will ask for it again. She is picking up books to read and enjoy. Even asking Matt to look at our online library page to see if there were other books in a series or by that author to order for pick up at our library.
She will occassionally wear light make up and for the play she wore the make up necessary without a single complaint except when we got home and it was “get this stuff off of me NOW”. She let’s me brush her hair and put it up. She allows others to do her hair from time to time.
I think for me the thing I look back on and find most encouraging is her level of independence grew over the year. She advocates and will fight for what she believes to be right. She knows her limits and is still setting boundries. She does her best to use her coping skills to voice her needs. She knows when she needs to take a break. And yet, she chooses to try and push herself to do more, to do better and to strive for being the best that she can be.
We don’t demand her to do this. She does this because she expects more from herself. She knows someone has to be the voice of explaining that people with autism aren’t monsters. She wants to challenge how people think about autism. She wants to challenge those with autism to be the best person they can be.
This year, a lot of growing up has been done. Growth in so many areas and ways.