Jake’s verbal skills have improved dramatically over the past several months. I know I’ve talked about it before but I just can’t help but write about it again. A big part his progress is due to being in school and attending a social skills group. We also make him use his words more at home. Because Jake is delayed developmentally it is hard, at times, not to treat him as a 3-year-old versus the 6-year-old that he is. Over the summer I’ve worked with him a lot on using his speech instead of crying, self-help skills and cleaning up after himself. Like anything else we work on, it isn’t easy. But Jake is getting the hang of things.
This past week when we got home from school I was emptying Jake’s backpack and found his uneaten snack. I asked him why he didn’t eat his snack. Normally I would have to repeat this question and then go over to him, hold his hands and ask him to answer me. The usual response would be “I don’t know”. But this particular day Jake looked at me and said “I went to resource and forgot to bring it with me.” Inside I was jumping for joy, he answered my question simply and without prompting. Jake doesn’t go to resource every day, it is there for breaks as needed or if he needs help with a particular subject so his answer raised a red flag for me. I asked Jake “why did you go to resource?” he answered “I needed to play on the iPad.” Hmmmm, not sure what that meant so I thought I would ask another question “Jake, did you need a break from your classroom?” he said “No, Mrs. O. just told me I needed to go to resource. It was fun. Can I eat my snack now, I’m starving?” I have never gotten this much information out of him and even though I didn’t understand why he was pulled from his classroom to play on the iPad I was thrilled that Jake was able to tell me this on his own. Jake never cried or melted down, he just casually talked to me about everything that happened. It was the neatest and best feeling I’ve had in a very long time. We had a real conversation about his day. Wow!
Too many times we think because our kids are playing or being quiet they are not paying attention to their surroundings. This is especially true for our autistic children. I’ve been guilty of this a time or two but Jake is always paying attention. He is processing what is going on around him, what is being said and storing that information. If you have a teenager then you know this to be true as well. My 17-year-old daughter will have her ear buds in listening to music and many times I think she isn’t paying attention or can’t hear me. But she is listening to everything. I know it is different but the ending is the same, she can hear all that is going on around and just because she isn’t making eye contact or a part of what’s going on doesn’t mean she isn’t hearing and processing it all.
I have learned a lot about patience during this journey with Jake. I have learned to keep working and not to give up because there will come a time when all that is taught comes together for him and all of a sudden it’s like a volcano erupting. It isn’t easy but the result is worth every tear shed and every frustrating moment.
P.S. Jake is going to resource each day, we’ve adjusted that, to work on his handwriting. He wasn’t just playing on the iPad for fun, he was actually working (ha). His resource teacher assured me he wouldn’t miss snack again and felt horrible that he missed it on that day. I love the staff that is working with Jake and the school itself!!