|Derek at age 2|
Derek's MDT is on Tuesday. What does that mean? It means that his Multi-Disciplinary Team reevaluates him for autism. No. Big. Deal. Except it is. It means everything in terms of the services he receives in school. I'm not worried, because I know Derek will still qualify. But it's hard to hear that your child is behind his peers--even when you know it's coming.
It has been 3 years since Derek was officially diagnosed. 1095 days. It feels like a lifetime.
I cleaned out Derek's therapy room today. All I really wanted to do was vacuum and straighten the room up. 90 minutes and a trip down memory lane later, the room is definitely clean...
When I went into the room, I was in a rotten mood. I wanted to take a nap, but that was out of the question. So I dumped an entire toy box on the floor and started shuffling through it. The first thing I found was a plastic blue circle. It stopped me in my tracks. I was instantly reminded of a day 3 years ago when I was trying to help my son fit different shapes into a shape sorter. A purple cross. An orange square. A red triangle. The circle was the only shape he could get to fit through the hole. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. A lump formed in my throat.
I looked around at some of the other things in the room.
There were wooden puzzles on a shelf. You know, the kind made for toddlers. My son struggled through them all--especially the alphabet ones.
PECS (Picture Exchange Communication) boards were propped against a wall. there was a picture of Cheetos and a picture of his favorite fire truck...we'd used those for rewards...I remembered screams and smiles once Derek finally figured out what we wanted from him.
By now tears were coursing down my cheeks.
If you are wondering why I cried, it's because my son has come SO FAR. Unlike most children, learning didn't come naturally to Derek. He didn't pick up on language naturally. We had to teach him language with flashcards. We had to teach him how to PLAY. We had to teach him how to turn on a LIGHT SWITCH. We had to teach him everything.
In three years, Derek has somehow figured out a way to not only survive, but to THRIVE in a world that he is not comfortable in. I never expected him to be talking at all, but he is. I consider him my miracle. He's even starting to put sentences together. He's not writing yet, but I have high hopes. He's interacting with his brother. His eye contact is amazing. And best of all? He's got a SENSE OF HUMOR!!!! He smiles and laughs and tries to get others to laugh. I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with this child of mine, and I could not possibly be more proud of him. His spirit is magical, and I wouldn't change a thing...