My health has just been for crap lately, so crawling out from under my self-pity and general groaning – which I’m not good at in general – has required some serious conscious effort on my part.
Thankfully, the J-Man has his ways of snapping me out of it with yet more astonishing new things he’s achieved lately. His last two weeks at school this quarter – which ended a week ago – were like a quantum leap forward for him. His progress at school has been extraordinary, and it seems like every day at home yet another new beam of light comes shining out from him.
As I noted one of today’s great achievements, I got to thinking about all his recent accomplishments and newly-developed skills. I decided to start trying to write them down so I could both celebrate them and snap myself out of my self-indulgent funk. So, here are a handful.
- A lot more mimicking lately, like patting knees and clapping hands and other motions in songs and books like patting his head, stomping his feet, or shaking his head! Perhaps these developing skills are leading him to being able to sign, learn more motor and play skills, and more. If you think about it, mimicking is at the core of so many therapies, so the value of this skill cannot be overstated, especially because it’s a huge challenge for so many of our kids.
He actually signed ‘clean up’ while watching Signing Time! He has pretty much never signed anything except ‘more’ and ‘finished’. As I said, mimicking anything has been extremely hard for him, and learning sign and then signing back to someone has been nearly impossible for him so far as a result. And he’s not just signing it; he’s actually been helping clean up after eating some. I know he does this at school, but doing it without prompting at home (sometimes – not all the time yet!) is great!
- He’s verbalizing a lot, lot more both to the TV and to us during his favorite shows – particularly Signing Time! He’s repeating some of the individual words he hears, but he’s also doing it sometimes for what he sees and reads. He pointed out a frog and a pair of shoes on the TV to me just today (joint attention in a shared activity!) and has been reading all kinds of words on the screen. Fun note – we found he loves the on-screen channel guide on our cable TV; it’s like a word wonderland.
- He’s pointing out words in just about every other context too. It’s always amusing to see what word or two out of a whole page or screen that he picks out. One that always makes me laugh is ‘com’. He loves anything that ends with .com it seems. (He leaves off the ‘dot’ when saying it.) That’s my boy!
- He’s also starting to identify some more objects with pointing and words, without any prompting. He just wants to tell us about them! We haven’t figured out any pattern to the objects or what is significant to him about them, but no matter. It’s just great that he’s starting to do this more with us.
- And yesterday he used two words together to describe some things! It took me a minute to figure out what he was pointing at, but they were some tiny colored circles on the back of a puzzle board. Usually if he’s in the mood to tell me, he tells me the colors of something (usually shapes or crayons or solid color squares). But for a minute or so he went through telling me about the ‘purple circle’, ‘blue circle’, ‘circle green’, and so on. (He used his word approximations for the ones he can’t say as clearly. And who cares if he switches the word order!) He’s been learning at school that things can have multiple ways to describe them (e.g., a big, green circle), but has usually needed visual prompts – like Boardmaker pictures – to use. He did this with his own words with no prompting. Big ol’ yay!!
- He’s also been more willing to play with new toys and books lately. In the past, it’s taken quite a while – sometimes weeks, if ever – for a new toy or book to get looked at let alone played with. He’s had like an ‘inner circle’ of toys and books, with members that rotate in and out based on what’s interesting to him at any given moment. Since his birthday was not long ago, he’s gotten quite a few new toys and books lately. He has been quick to check them out, play with them a bit, and then decide whether he wants them to hang around or not. I don’t much care whether he likes a particular thing or not, but his openness to explore and experiment is a great thing!
- We took a long car trip recently to visit my family. He did amazingly well on the ride up and back and really hung in there with what I know was an exhausting visit for him. We get up there only rarely, so it’s mostly people he doesn’t really know. The days were long, and he had to sleep in a strange bed in a strange room, which meant he wouldn’t go to sleep without us staying with him until he was completely out. This meant he went to sleep 2-3 hours later than usual while still getting up at the same time in the morning. He was completely exhausted, but he handled it all very well. I know that was hard for him.
- This was a one-time thing, but the problem solving skills he showed amazed me. He wanted to carry an almost full cup of tea to the couch and sit down with it so he could drink it and watch TV. Problem was, he couldn’t figure out how to pick it up from across the end table next to the couch and then sit back down on the couch with it.
So, he got off the couch, went over and picked up the cup from the far side of the end table, carefully moved it and positioned it on the other side of that table right next to where he sits on the couch, and then he climbed back up on the couch. The cup was positioned right next to where his hand naturally ended up. This may sound extraordinarily simple to most people, but this really is quite a skillful maneuver on his part. It seems a very natural thing to try to just sit down while holding the cup, but he realized that wasn’t going to work so he paused, thought through it, and figured out an alternative way that would work, one that I’ve never seen him try before. That took a lot of reasoning, creativity, and motor planning to put several steps together like that. That was so cool!
And these are just some of the things at home. School is like a whole other huge set of awesomeness.
We feared that the three-week break from school arriving right as he was making this great progress would set him back, but it hasn’t seemed to a bit. Yay!