Watching Daniel Bloom

Where are we now….

Posted on: July 16, 2012

daniel

As I was talking with my mom the other day about Daniel and his progress, and about how proud I am of him, she brought up my blog (and the fact that I hadn’t written for a very long time).  I responded with my standard “work has been so busy since I went to five days a week in January, I just don’t find I have the time anymore” (which is true). But honestly, that’s not the whole story; in fact, I have started “update” posts a number of times over the past couple of months, but somehow, I just wasn’t ready to press the publish button.

I think that deep down, I was waiting, and hoping that the day would come when there would be a single, definitive thing that I could point to and say, “See? I told you! I told you he’s just going to be a late bloomer!”  But the thing is – it doesn’t work like that. You don’t just wake up and suddenly – poof – everything is great, and perfect, and all “fixed” now!

As much as I hoped and prayed for that “perfect ending”, I realize now  that just because it doesn’t work that way doesn’t mean its not still awesome – and i really do mean AWE some  – in its own way. In fact, I think in many ways, it’s so much better this way.

I (along with family, friends, teachers and therapists) have spent the last five months watching Daniel experience one little breakthrough followed by another.  And when you add all of those up, the result is pretty impressive.

Every time he takes one of these tiny steps forward, I get a jolt of giddiness, and I swear it feels like I want to explode each and every time. Like the way he will say “that’s right mommy!” when I correctly I interpret what he’s trying to say (seriously, my heart skips every time, without fail). Or when I arrive to pick him up at school and look out the window to see him playing with the other kids, happy and engaged, and clearly participating as part of the group. Or the time a few weeks ago when he was invited to a birthday party and the mother of the birthday girl told me that she kept asking if her friend Daniel was coming….

Honestly, I have almost daily moments ranging from happiness to tears of joy (I really need to get a handle on that) as I watch Daniel break out of his little shell and start to really connect- and understand – the people and world around him.  Seriously though, how many people get to feel that kind if elation on a regular basis? It truly is a gift.

With all that said,  I know that each accomplishment is celebrated with such intensity because there are still a lot of questions about where we will “land”.  Daniel still has enormous difficulty with language (both receptive and expressive), his fine motor skills are very delayed, and his is a very long way from being “caught up” with his peers. By the same token, his improvement is undeniable…all of which leaves us in a situation where no one can predict what kind of outcomes we can expect (that sounds so clinical – seriously, who knows “what kind of outcomes to expect” from any child??).

What we do know is that Daniel once again completed the 4-hour ADOS assessment for autism spectrum without a diagnosis (*happy dance*), and that his “cognitive functioning” was found to be at or above age level (*even happier dance*).  However, we also know that he has a severe language disorder, and that he continues to show markers/red flags that put him at a high risk for ongoing learning disabilities and possibly a future diagnosis on the spectrum. So, we remain committed to providing him with therapy (right now that includes speech therapy & play therapy, and OT is next on the list for the Fall)  to support him in meeting his potential – which I know is enormous.

The good news is that we are in a daycare that is full of teachers who are loving and caring and have embraced Daniel and all of his unique awesomeness. He will enter the junior kindergarten class there in September and I know he is in the best possible place, and I’m confident that he will continue to thrive in that environment.

I also take some comfort in knowing that as the other children improve their understanding of upper case, lower case, sounding out letters, counting to 20, colors and shapes in JK…well, Daniel mastered all that months and in some cases years ago, which will hopefully give him the opportunity to catch up in areas that have not come so easily (like speaking, understanding conversational language, fine motor skills for writing and drawing, etc…). There’s no doubt that he has strengths that I believe will help him compensate for the challenges. Notably, his ability to memorize will likely come in handy at school – one of his therapists mentioned to me that during a game the other day, he  memorized his “grocery list” card – he didn’t look back once at his “list” and correctly identified the items he needed to complete it from memory (now if only I could learn to do that…).

So, life is good. And Daniel is, without question, GREAT. We (or more specifically, I) have learned to stop living on eggshells, and for the most part, I have consciously stopped measuring  Daniel against his peers (which is a totally unproductive, negative habit), and instead remain focused on his achievements. I guess that’s a pretty good goal for any parent.

So where are we now? Today, my dearest little Daniel is a lovely, kind, polite child, with a smile that can melt hearts. Of course he has his moments and his meltdowns (what 4-yr old doesnt?), and he still needs a fair amount of routine in his life (this from the mother who heats her milk for exactly 22 seconds before adding coffee to the mug every morning at work).

But overall, Daniel is a HAPPY kid who is learning new things every day, and who cares deeply about the people around him. And that is really all I ever wanted for him.

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3 Responses to "Where are we now…."

Wonderful to read all the good news you shared with us about Daniel.

Thank you so much Diane!

This post makes me so happy for you and your son. And sad at the same time because I know what you are feeling. The accomplishments are amazing but the progress is and can be slow. And where will you end up. I feel it every day. My son just turned 3 and has no words yet. No diagnosis either. Honestly, Daniel sounds amazing. You are doing a great job mama!

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