Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seismic Shift

As a resident of California, I half-expect a life altering earthquake to happen at any given moment. I walk around with my ears tuned for the low rumble that signals earth-shattering movement. A few weeks ago there was a massive seismic shift that I missed. We're not sure exactly when it happened,  but something critical shifted for Simon. He has started closing gaps at a speed we can't quite comprehend.  As his teacher said, "it's like 50% of his programs loaded all at once".

First and most dramatically, our kid started eating.  Like really eating.  Pretty much overnight he went from eating *maybe* 5% of his calories by mouth to 30% by mouth.  He used to have a few good days of eating 2 oz of food at lunch but then he'd get a stuffy nose or he'd get a little gaggy or the winds were wrong and it would be over.  Now he just chews with his mouth open if his nose is stuffy.  He gags with food in his mouth, waits until the nausea passes and then keeps chewing.  And swallows it.  He asks for food night and day.  It's insane. And hilariously ironic.We're going to Children's Hospital Orange County next Tuesday to do the intake process for an intensive feeding program.  A program that we've fought to qualify for for months. If he keeps up like this, we might end up not needing it.

He also has started potty training in earnest.  We have been working on potty training for I don't know how many years and decided to just stop a few months ago.   A week and a half ago, we decided to try it again by not letting him wear a diaper in the house. He went diaper free on Sunday and only had one accident.  He has said on multiple occasions, "Mama/Mommy, I have to go pee" and we go and try and he does it.  This is nothing short of a miracle. It's going to be a long road, but it's happening!

His pragmatic speech is insane.  If he's in another room and wants someone's attention, he calls their name LOUDLY until they respond.  If he calls Laura and she doesn't respond the first 3 times to "Mommy", he switches to "Mommy Laura".  This is a level of sophistication and comprehension about engaging another person that we have never seen before. He'll grab your hand and take you to things.

 Until recently, he usually acts like he doesn't really notice or care if you're there or not. Last week we all went out to sushi and I started to walk him down the street while Laura stayed behind to pay the bill.  He stopped just outside the restaurant and said, "Where's Mommy".  He has never asked about anyone in that way before. And he wouldn't keep walking.  He was aware that she wasn't there and he wanted to be with her and was not willing to go without her.  It was a first.

I was in Trader Joes with him this weekend and he saw a papaya.  He turned to me and asked me "what's this?"  I think my jaw literally dropped open.  Our kid has NEVER asked what something was.  I told him and he asked me about 4 other items.  It was amazing. He's never asked a why question and I have a feeling that's next.

He has started dancing to one of the shows he has watched for months.  All of a sudden, he's copying their movements.  Before this shift, he had a very robotic, awkward movement that he would do only if you practically had a cheerleading team screaming encouragement. He's jumping and running and in his body in a totlaly different way.

We have no idea what changed but we are so totally digging it. We also wonder what this will mean for the pending autism assessments  he's undergoing to determine if he will get a medical diagnosis of autism in addition to the classification by the school district.  He had a speech assessment as part of the medical testing and the therapist was really unclear about whether or not he's on the spectrum after meeting with him.  We're still waiting for the report.  We may still go with the diagnosis based on the school assessment in order to get more services, but it's definitely not crystal clear that he's on the spectrum.

On some level it feels like these things are coming out of nowhere, but if I step back for a second I know that's not true.  Laura has spent almost every single minute of every single day of Simon's life to get him here.  She has worked tirelessly on his speech, potty training, eating, balance, movement, social skills, all of it for years. And with these recent changes, particularly the eating and potty training, her work has actually increased exponentally. She's tired.  Thrilled but tired.  She's still in her chaplaincy program until the end of May and balancing all of of this has been hard.We still haven't figured out quite how to shift some of the labor to me but we're trying. Just got to give her a shout out. This would not be happening without her tireless love, dedication, and insane amounts of work.
A final note: Our friend Glennon, the author of the incredibly popular blog Momastery and #3 New York Times bestseller "Carry On  Warrior" just posted a piece I wrote for her blog.  She has, um, over 75,000 readers. The comments have been unbelievably touching. Last weekend we got to meet her in the flesh when she was here for her book tour. It was beautiful. Really, it was like catching up with a lifelong friend, not meeting someone in person for the first time. If you haven't read her blog, you must.  Honest.

Here are some pics to capture the last few weeks.

Scary animal in the kitchen

Tigers in the kitchen

Simon's awesome Angry Birds birthday cake made by his Auntie Joan

Meeting Glennon!

Simon and our sweet neighbor Nathan having snuggle time
 Simon and Nathan playing "Hot dog" in the hammock
His favorite phrase these days is "you are hi-larious!"  Evidently Nathan was!