Those moments that just make you stop and think… how did we get here? Is this truly the life I am living? Yesterday was one of those days for my momma heart. Big brother… I was sitting quietly yesterday just thinking about him. He has come a long way! Let me begin oh, about nine years ago!
Big brother, well before he was a big brother, struggled with talking. Being the first time mom that I was I didn’t know any different. Words were not his forte’. He would just look at either hubby or I and we would figure out what he needed. He was an easy going kid and I think I took it for granted. At two and a half years of age I enrolled Big brother in a preschool program so that he could be around other kids and he would have some other influences in his little life. I started to notice a disparity in his language development compared to those around him.
The easy going little boy that I knew to be Big brother was being replaced with a very frustrated one. If schedules changed or the wind blew wrong he would have an epic meltdown. We are talking one that would involve he and I laying on the floor crying, me because I didn’t know how to help and him out of pure frustration. I remember explaining these episodes to hubby and him not really seeing them – granted he was working crazy long hours. From time to time I would call my mom in tears not knowing what was wrong with this little boy. After one episode that lasted almost two hours I remember holding him after he had finally fallen asleep and wondering if he was possessed – my heart and mind were torn!
After explaining some of these concerns to some outside people I decided to take him to our doctor. Many tests, consultations and appointments, we had a game plan. There were concerns of autism and I was assured that early intervention was going to be the best method for both big brother and myself. The winter before big brother turned three I was told that he was on the spectrum and that we were looking at years of services to get him on track.
Our schedules were filled with running from one specialist to another. We had hour appointments with the occupational therapist twice a week. Hour appointments with the stuttering specialist once a week. Plus twice a week a speech pathologist was coming to our house for half hour appointments. Our worlds were filled with a lot of other people helping me to learn how to talk with, prepare for and cope with the needs of big brother. All while having a little brother to manage who was showing some signs of language delay as well.
By the time big brother was preparing to enter kindergarten we were trying to pair down his appointments. The summer before kindergarten big brother graduated from occupational therapy. Ms. Susan was a God-send. She taught big brother so many coping techniques for when life threw him curve balls. She taught him how to effectively use both side of his body and brain – there was a lot of cross medial tasks that he was mastering. The week before big brother entered kindergarten, Ms Susan issued big brother a completion certificate and requested to see him at semester break.
Our summer before kindergarten also allowed us to move from seeing the stuttering specialist to just seeing the speech pathologist once a week for one hour appointments in office. Brother’s stuttering we discovered was not from a tongue issue but from a mind problem – his mind was working above and beyond and it was not allowing the first words to come out because he was words and sentences beyond.
Upon entering kindergarten Big brother was placed on an educational plan with the school specialists as a means of watching his progress and allowing more time when needed to complete tasks in class or outside class when the time allowed. Through Big brother’s kindergarten, first grade and second grade he was on the school’s educational plan. At the beginning of his third grade year the school and I sat down and realized that he was meeting all classroom demands without any intervention and that he was testing at an appropriate level. At third grade we removed his educational plan and he was at that time considered a mainstream child.
Last year, there were a few struggles with some class demands and I spent some time explaining to his very young, very new teacher some of his background – to which she was unaware of. Although last year was a rough year for big brother there were some great things that came of it.
This year – has been a year for Big brother! At the beginning of the school year I began by sitting with his teacher and explaining some of his background as a jumping point to encourage her to push him. It has become clear to hubby and I that if Big brother is not pushed he is completely content to sit at mediocre! I explained to his teacher that if at any turn she would be willing to push Big brother he is excited and able to excel. This year has been just that for him!
I have seen Big brother excel in many areas that I would have never dreamed of. Beside his ravenous appetite for books, which I truly give credit to his first grade teacher for, he has begun to broaden his reading repertoire. He joined a Battle of the Books club, where students are given six different texts to read then are broken into teams to recall facts in a battle.
In November, he brought home a sheet of paper announcing the school spelling bee and stated that he wanted to be a part of it. Early mornings before school I dropped him off so that he could practice and prepare for the school spelling bee. And that brings us to today! Yesterday was the school spelling bee. Hubby and I met the boys at school to sit in the back and watch big brother. My heart and eyes were filled! Big brother stood in front of a room of parents and students and loudly and clearly stated his name, grade and teacher – my mind immediately flew back to a time where his words were unclear and I was his “interpreter” to everyone. Although big brother did not advance to the district level I was blown away by the little man that he is!
If I could go back nine years and tell the mom that I was then, not to stress about a diagnosis and just love him well and keep trekking I so would. Big brother is on the precipice of turning eleven years old, there is not a single sign of the spectrum in him, he is finding his niche in this world that we live in and I get front row seats to where the Lord is taking him!