Monday, September 8, 2014

Mae and Eye Contact and the Post I Couldn't Have Imagined Writing A Year Ago

Quite suddenly in the last couple of months, Mae's play skills have been growing by leaps and bounds.  It's amazing to watch... and a little exhausting for her favorite playmate, who also happens to be her big sister.

You see, if Mae is imagining that she is a mermaid than she will go and get Sadie's mermaid costume and follow Sadie around begging her sister to wear it until Sadie finally agrees (repeating "mermaid, mermaid" and holding the costume as close to her sister as she possibly can).

If Mae is a roller skating ballerina she'll find her sister's roller skates and do the exact same thing, tearfully if her sister isn't in a roller skating sort of mood.  Thankfully Sadie is a wonderful sport (and likes playing with Mae) and so most of the time she's quick to join in.

Today after we got home from Mass they spent a solid three hours roller skating together, holding hands most of the time.  At one point Sadie was looking in the opposite direction and I saw Mae looking intently at her face trying to catch her eye.  When Sadie didn't look at her Mae finally reached up and touched her hair so that her sister would look down and make eye contact with her.

It was amazing to see.  It also wasn't entirely surprising because along with the sudden burst in imaginative play has come a huge development on the eye contact front.

Mae has gone from making very little eye contact to looking up at me when I come in the room and locking on to my gaze.  I'll say "nice looking" and talk with her, but as often as not I find myself looking away first because the child suddenly seems to have the ability to communicate amazingly with her eyes and she seems more and more eager to use it (and less and less eager to look away!) and not all that eager to look away!

Who would have thought that the little girl who wouldn't look up when most people spoke to her, would suddenly be a good contestant for a staring contest?

I've also noticed she's been making eye contact with complete strangers (like the usher who said hi to her at Mass today) and while others may not realize what a big deal that is, it is a big deal to me.

I've never actually asked her to make eye contact with me, but I found myself beginning to say "nice looking" like her therapists do when she looks at whatever they're doing (Sadie says it too).  And now she's looking more and more!

And the best part?  When she looks up into someone's eyes it's almost always accompanied by a sweetly happy smile.  It doesn't seem forced.  In fact, when her eyes do meet mine it feels far more natural than I could have imagined was possible during the early days after her diagnosis.

I'm not sure I can capture just how much she seems to communicate with her eyes.  Last night after writing all the previous paragraphs I went downstairs when Paul got home from work and he's definitely noticed it too.  She doesn't have as many words as the average four year old, and they don't come easily to her, but between the words that she has, her expressive eyes, her drawings and her little fluttering signs, she's finding more and more ways to communicate with the world around her and reach out to let us know what's on her mind!


  1. So wonderful! I am so happy for you all. I can hear your joy coming right through the page.

  2. What a huge step that is!!! Wonderful news. Way to go, Mae!


  3. What wonderful news this is for all of you. We love hearing all that goes on with all of you.The pictures of the girls are beautiful. When does Patrick get a Nemo outfit so he can swim with the mermaids.?
    Love and prayers,Ann and Paul


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