Jake is making great progress right now. I am so proud of this little boy; he works so incredibly hard each and every day!
One of the biggest things he learned to do this week was to pedal a tricycle! This is a HUGE accomplishment! We’ve been working with Jake on the concept of pedaling since he was around two years old. Jake would always put his feet on the pedals and then look to us to make him go. We have tried various tactics to help him understand the concept, we would show him ourselves but he would get so frustrated and cry and then run away. Jake is a big boy but has very low muscle tone which makes tasks like pedaling a bike super hard. And when you throw in the fact that it takes him longer to figure out what he has to do on a bike his frustration is understandable! We have a fabulous physical therapist and when she asked me if there was a particular goal I wanted Jake to reach I told her it was to pedal a bike. We have been seeing this particular PT for over a year. Over the course of this past year she has worked on pedaling. This past Monday she came to me and was so excited telling me that he did it! Watching Jake pedal the tricycle was simply beautiful! I don’t know the adjective that best describes this moment but it was pure joy! It was like watching a baby take his or her first steps.
One thing I tell myself daily is to wait, be patient because eventually Jake will do what he needs to do. It is all about understanding the way Jake learns and once I understand the learning process for him I can help him achieve his goals. I cannot teach him like I did the boys or Allie. Jake has his own way of processing information and I have to learn how to teach him differently. It is an adjustment. I fail many many times but I learn from those failures and keep trying. That is what Jake does. Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That’s us! I’ve learned, through working with Jake, to keep trying different ways to help him. I have learned to read his body language, watch is facial expressions and react in such a way it helps and doesn’t hinder him. I’ve learned the hard way when something doesn’t work but we don’t give up we keep trying and eventually we achieve our goal!
I am reading a book right now, ‘Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew’ by Ellen Notbohm. This book is incredible and I highly recommend it to anyone working with or who is around a child with Autism. One chapter that has stood out to me is chapter 3 — ‘I think differently, teach me in a way that is meaningful to me’. As I read the title, I thought, that’s it! I cannot begin to teach Jake the way others might teach a typical child…I’ve got to understand him first then I can teach him where he will understand. Many of us who have or had typical children might say you should do this with typical kids as well because they all learn differently. I agree; all kids learn differently and at their own pace. A child with Autism is a little bit more challenging at times. It takes a great deal of adjustment to understand that particular child and then when you find a method that works for one goal it might not work for the next goal. There is so much thought process that goes into just approaching Jake and finding out what works best for him. BUT the great thing is we are all learning — every single one of us.
Jake’s progression is visible. Most everyone that encounters him whether it is on a daily basis, once a month or every few months can see it. I love this! I love watching him grow and I love watching things connect for him. Seeing that moment of “I’ve got this” is so so rewarding. I’ve felt that feeling before with my other kids but when something like learning to pedal takes a little more than 3 years; well, it is bigger than big!
Philippians 3: 14 ~ I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV)