Failure is Success

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 saidI 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!

 

1sttimepedaling042114
This is a blurry picture because it was taken from a video and he was moving…but check out his feet 🙂

 

Philippians 3: 14 ~ I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Advertisements

It will be okay…

It was a difficult night. Jake had been to the doctor earlier in the week with an ear infection so I knew he wasn’t feeling 100%. He was cranky, tired and everything that was going on around him was sending him into either a crying fit or rage. I could see the meltdown coming so I approached him with caution. In a gentle voice I let him know he had 5 minutes to continue playing then it would be time to take his medicine and get ready for bed. He screamed and ran away saying the infamous “NO!”  He picked up a car and threw it then went over the sofa and threw the pillows. He didn’t want to stop playing; he was angry and went into a tantrum screaming all the while saying “no, bedtime, no medicine…Jake wants to play!” John and I were able to give him his medicine but he was still out of control. We both knew this was going to be a tough night; John didn’t want to leave but he had to get Allie from work. I have dealt with this behavior many times before (or so I thought) so I didn’t think it would be a big deal for him to leave.

I told Jake it was time to go potty and get ready for bed. He screamed “no” and ran from me. I told him we wouldn’t have story-time if he wouldn’t listen; he didn’t care. He started screaming and crying and then something changed. The look on his face went blank; he was lost. This is the best way I can describe how a tantrum moves into a meltdown. It was as if he couldn’t control his actions, he was blindly screaming, hitting, running. If there were a bystander in my home they would have thought I had lost all control of the situation. But I didn’t; my boy lost control. This is the part of autism that I hate. His brain may be telling him to do one thing but his body doesn’t hear, his body can’t react and he just screams. I sat with Jake in the floor trying to give him a deep pressure massage to help him find his calm. I couldn’t help him. He screamed and punched me. I held him tight trying not to lose it myself and he thrashed about with more screams. He was about to have an accident, I told him he needed to go potty which sent him into another tailspin of emotions. As he stood there crying my name he abruptly stopped and looked at me. All of the sudden these huge tears streamed from his eyes and he said “I’m sorry, mommy! I’m sorry, mommy! I’m so sorry, mommy!” My heart broke! And when I say it broke it truly felt like a knife was cutting into my heart ripping it apart. I knelt down to him and he clung to me. He wrapped his arms around my neck saying “I’m sorry, mommy” over and over again. I started to cry which turned into a sob…I just couldn’t hold it together in any longer. As I held my boy we cried together. Then Jake stopped crying and looked at me. He noticed my tears and touched them and through his own tears he said “Please don’t cry, mommy! Please don’t cry!”. He wrapped his arms around my neck as tight as he could begging me not to cry. I kissed him and hugged him tight and told him it was going to be okay. I did my best to dry my tears but they wouldn’t stop. I smiled at him and assured him it was going to be okay. I told him I was there and I would help him. We sat there on the bathroom floor for what seemed like hours; hugging each other. My voice was soft as I repeated it was all going to be okay and I reassured him that I loved him more than anything.

Jake eventually pulled himself together and got ready for bed. I read him a story, we sang our songs and I tucked him in tight. All the while his eyes searching mine, looking for signs that I was okay and I was, for the most part. He was asleep before I left his room. I watched him sleep. I watched how his little face transformed from a fitful sleep to one of peace. As I walked out into the hallway I lost it all over again. I wish I could explain in better detail how a tantrum transforms into a meltdown. I wish I could describe the anguish on his face and the look of vacancy in his eyes. This type of meltdown was not something I have ever witnessed. This was something different. I have read and heard stories about meltdowns since we began this journey but hadn’t experienced one of this magnitude until that night.

This meltdown lasted around 45 minutes. It wore the both of us out! But in the midst of the horrific event; and yes, it was horrific, he saw my tears. He saw I was sad and he did something he never ever does…he hugged me tight! Nearly a week later I can still feel his little arms wrapped around my neck hanging on, squeezing me. As awful as that night was I smile thinking about that moment; that glorious moment where my boy hugged me tight and told me it would be okay.

it-will-all-be-ok-linda-woods

 

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”