Retrospective: You think you remember how hard it was but wow..

Monday, December 10, 2012

Towers of Babble: Trying to make sense of feeling crazy

I can never sleep the night before Sofie's therapy. I am hoping that gets better over time. Tomorrow is Sofie's second speech therapy session. I have to remind myself that she is still a toddler and that I can't get down when she doesn't stay focused for very long. In sports there is a common explanation for when someone loses or fails to meet expectations:  "they wanted it too much." Is that a real 'thing'? I don't know for sure, of course, but it feels true these days. I can't help but wrap myself up in every therapy session. I sometimes wonder if Sofie picks up on my desperation and decides to check out, so to speak. Is that even possible? Don't get me wrong, therapy is going pretty good. I just wish Sofie was more 'into' the therapy. She isn't incredibly interested yet. I am probably expecting way too much from her, which isn't fair.

But the worst is when I am home alone trying to teach her something from therapy. I must say first that it is by far the BEST feeling in the world when my little Bubu listens. She is pointing now (I'll get into that later)! It is those amazing highs that make the lows seem so comically pathetic. Take today for an example: here I am a grown woman cheerfully saying (over and over), "MOMMY IS GOING TO PUT THE BLOCK ON TOP OF THE OTHER BLOCK. YAY MOMMY. MOMMY IS GOING TO PUT THE BLOCK ON TOP. ON TOP. ON TOP OF THE BLOCK." I say over and over while Sofie is running around the apartment and occasionally stopping by to happily knock over my stack of blocks. Every professional keeps saying that Sofie is a unique thinker so I decide to run with this idea. Undeterred by my destroyed block tower I begin stacking random objects-any toy I can find. Maybe she will be thrown off a bit and not instantly knock it down. Maybe she will begin stacking.  This did not happen. Sofie was just more thorough about her destruction. Instead of simply knocking over the blocks, she was now inspecting the toy rubble for pieces to further dismantle. My lego accents to my tower didn't stand a chance. You would think I would let this go at this point. Maybe I would do some laundry or simply play a new game but I was a woman possessed. I had a stroke of genius, "I'll trick her into stacking blocks. And then she will see what she did and swell with pride and become a stacking machine." It looks idiotic reading that. Oh well, best of intentions right? So I take a clear plastic container and try to entice Sofie into putting the blocks in it. My hope was that Sofie would continue putting blocks in the container and get to see that she was stacking the blocks on top of one another. As you might have guessed, Sofie was completely ignoring her crazy mom at this point. What is that they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well maybe I am a little crazy. I honestly think it is a requirement for this chapter in our lives. "live. love. repeat." I am looking down at the wristband I created for Team Bubulubu and chuckling a bit. "Repeat" truly sums up my days. I am repeating actions over and over hoping that this time the lesson sticks. Ahh the wonders of parenting. I am willfully driving myself crazy because I am on a mission to have that one moment where she surprises me and stacks a block. It's funny how these tiny milestones make you reevaluate the big picture. Having a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder you live for little milestones that 'normally' developing children seem to reach so easily that parents often forget when it occurred.  It is this bizarre gift we have been given. Sofie's unique learning style is forcing us to simplify everything. She is forcing us to pause and break things down into steps we didn't even think of before. And Sofie's uniqueness is making us celebrate things we would have taken for granted otherwise. I know this because there is so much about Sofie that I am embarrassed to say I take for granted every day. I can't remember the exact  day (or even month) that Sofie began running. But I know that I will remember when Sofie started pointing.   

My crazy repetition paid off with pointing. The play therapist gave me some great advice. She said that we need to help explain to Sofie what pointing means. She said it is too abstract for her right now. The therapist suggested I use Sofie's love of mealtime as a teaching opportunity. The goal was (relatively) simple: have Sofie touch things she likes with one finger.  I started at the very next meal after therapy. I held the chicken and said "Sofie, more?" Sofie did the sign for 'more' and expected to be handed the bit of chicken. She was NOT happy when I held on to the chicken and took her hand and had her touch the chicken. I  fought her stubbornness and held her little hand so that she pointed at each piece of chicken.  I was laughing at the absurdity of the scene. Sofie is yelling at me and trying to get my hand off of hers all while I am cheerfully shouting "POINT. POINT. POINT. POINT AT THE YUMMY CHICKEN." By the next day we graduated to her extending her pointer finger with her three fingers and thumb adorably tucked away. Fast learner! She still needed me to prompt her everytime. I had to hold her wrist in order to get her to make the right gesture. As the day wore on I was making Sofie touch anything she wanted with her pointer finger. "Sofie, point point point?" And I would take her hand and say "point. point. point." After only TWO days Sofie didn't need me to hold her arm to prompt her. I would ask her if she wanted what I had in my hands. She would make the sign for more and I would say "point point point." And she would touch her little finger to the object in question. Amazing. After three days, she didn't need me to prompt her everytime. I noticed she was beginning to extend her little hand towards the wanted object -she was pointing! She hasn't done this COMPLETELY independent of me just yet. I am looking forward to when she sees something she wants and starts pointing-no "point. point.point."

My head is swimming. I think I am going to hold on tight to our little pointing victory and try to laugh off the absurdity of block towers. You can't get too upset over blocks right?


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