Many good things have happened in our home lately – many! I’m taking note of all the blessings. But last week? My heart. My heart has overflowed with the goodness of one simple moment.
I don’t write about the special needs aspect of our lives quite as much anymore, – at least, not the day-to-day of it, but there are some times when things need shared, and accomplishments need celebrated, and life needs to be valued.
When I was pregnant with Picasso, tests came back abnormal and there were all sorts of health issues, and we were given a choice.
To us, it was not a choice. Keeping the baby, despite the uncertainty of what may happen, was our decision, no matter what.
The first 5 years of his life really challenged our convictions in the “no matter what” of love.
I am a special education teacher by trade. My gut told me something was wrong, but I could not get a doctor to listen, to share my concerns, or to believe me, and so our choice to love, no matter what, was a struggle we ventured through on our own when we really should have had more help.
After a time, I crossed paths with another mom in the same situation and God used her in mighty ways to get to a point in my heart, and a therapy center, where I could begin to get help for my son.
When we started there 3.5 years ago, his reciprocal language scores were low. So very low. Maybe they never even fully developed. He didn’t know to look at people, he did not read facial expressions, he took no cues from others. He did not understand conversation, and he didn’t look at people talking to him, so he had no possible way of learning (or understanding) emotions.
His emotional development was also very far behind where it should be.
A lot of his therapy has centered around verbal and non-verbal cues, prompting to help him learn to LOOK at people when he’s interacting with them – to notice their facial expressions. From there he was supposed to try to recognize their facial expressions and then verbalize his recognition of facial expressions and other verbal or non-verbal cues. For example, did they look happy? sad? angry?
Last week, our daughter was doing an art project that was an extension of a lesson she had about Henri Matisse. She colored shapes, cut them out and glued them onto paper to make a beautiful scene. She then asked me where Matisse was buried. She said she wanted to take her picture to lay at his stone (that was her word for grave). Matisse would have been honored to receive that work!
My son was cutting shapes, too. As we often affectionately refer to him as Picasso because of his love for art, I was not surprised to find him joining in her project.
And then, there it was. Even now, my eyes fill with tears. My heart is full, so full.
I could not capture his words quickly enough, and typed through my tears. Later he permitted me to take some pictures, as he again described some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard from him.
You needed the background of what he has struggled with, as shared above, to understand and appreciate what happened. And while I don’t expect that you will have the same tear-filled, joy-overflowing response that I did, please “get” this. Please understand JUST how big this is:
He said, while manipulating shapes, “You can just FEEL his emotions, can’t you?!”
He once knew no emotions. He once recognized nothing pertaining to emotions.
And now he FEELS them?!?! That’s understanding on a whole other level!!!
He went on to manipulate pieces of paper, shapes he had cut out, into these forms, and labeled each picture – some as a type of person, some as an emotion.
Please, tell me you understand? It’s taken 3.5 years of therapy, and 9 years of his life, to know an emotion, understand an emotion. And now that he can create the emotion, it means he has internalized the meaning, the understanding of it, and knows the “why” behind the emotion.
I couldn’t capture the information quickly enough and then get it sent to the therapists. They all got back to me quickly and expressed their utter amazement! Then, at one of his sessions last week, apparently he made more faces, different faces.
He made sequencing plans with another therapist in order to have some “cooking homework”. He still struggles with small things like, “Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth and go to bed.” But now he’s starting to follow multi-step cooking directions, feeling more confident in his own abilities within life.
My heart. The joy we might have missed with this one, or any of our kids, if our decision-making had been any different.