Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A Big Mistake and Hope
I paused and took a deep breath.
She only ate a tiny amount of the fish, but by the time we got home she was covered in a rash. And she was up for hours jumping in her room. And for the next night and the next night after that too. And the teeth grinding started again... all day long yesterday, which was the third day, I could hear here grinding her teeth. I just couldn't believe it."
And I tried to not feel quite as horrible as I was feeling by repeatedly telling myself that we had learned something... something huge... and that we now knew that she couldn't have anything with even a tiny bit of gluten, even on a special occasion.
The day wasn't over yet though.
In the afternoon the graduate research assistant that is going to be coaching us during the class I'm taking (as part of the study), came over to film us playing and having a snack and to set up my computer for the program. I searched for something that would engage Mae for more than a few seconds while we played and then grabbed a piece of paper and crayons. She can't resist a box of crayons. Instantly we were side by side on the ground coloring. I would draw a shape and she would color it in.
The part of the day that amazed me, however, came a few moments later when we were filming her snack. Mae ate some dried apples and sipped her almond milk while sitting in her chair. Then she hoped down and came over to me. "Up!" She said clearly. I scooped her onto my lap. She pressed my cheek to hers and then pushed it away then pressed it against her own again, giggling. Then she took my left hand in hers and put her foot in it. With her other hand she put my right hand on top of her foot and then scratched the back of my hand to show that she wanted her foot scratched. I scratched her foot and she giggled and kicked her foot away and then repeated the entire process.
It was the most perfect non-verbal communication I could imagine (and the filming was to see how Mae communicates at this point, before the study begins).
The young lady who'll be working with us said that she's never seen anyone get the help that Mae has gotten as quickly and smoothly as we've gotten it. It's how the system is supposed to work, theoretically, but it usually doesn't. Many people get a diagnosis and then languish, waiting for help.
And as each day goes by I am incredibly thankful and feel very blessed that somehow Mae is getting the help that she's needed. She looks forward to her therapy sessions each day with such excitement and she's so clearly proud of herself each time she uses a new word. She's blossoming as we all learn how to help her communicate with us and the world around her.
Two months ago yesterday we were in the doctor's office when she suggested Mae was on the spectrum. It's only been a month and a half since we felt as though our world was turned upside down by the diagnosis. In the beginning I couldn't help but attempt to peer into the future and wonder where this frightening diagnosis would lead us. In the few quiet moments I had, I was terrified for our littlest girl.
That has changed. As we've gone along I'm learning to focus on the day to day as she hurdles past challenges with an infectious giggle and her Mae-typical fearlessness. As I watch her, determined to face every challenge she comes across, the future is far less frightening. In truth, as I look back over my fears I wonder how, knowing Mae, I could ever have expected anything less?