Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Next?

Recently I took Peaches to the park to play with her best buddy and his siblings while Rooster was off at day camp. "How is Rooster?" asked the sweet dad on the play date. "If you don't mind me asking, what is the prognosis for Rooster?"

No, I don't mind being asked -- I appreciate concern about Roo -- but I don't know what to say, exactly, either.

We have many people who micro-"ist" our boy. By that I mean that we have people who deal with his this issue or his that therapy... they touch his trunk, his tusks... but I don't know how many really deal with the whole elephant in the room of where our journey might take us. Then again, did my parents know when I was six what my future held? Do any parents have a prognosis for the future of their kids? You have kids, then you hold on for dear life... you wait and see where the journey takes you, I guess. Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball...

Some of the ists in our life have tried to prepare us for the possibility of thinking about group homes one day, while others talk like they assume Roo is going to find some special Bill Gates or Steven Spielberg talent and take over some sliver of the world. And then there are a lot people who fall somewhere in between...

Lately, Roo has taken to asking me, "after first grade, THEN can I go to college?" I overthought this perseveration for quite a while before I smacked my forehead with my palm and realized that when my boy gets stuck on something, a movie or a book can almost always be blamed. You probably got it faster than I did, since I confessed to you last post that I am so not a movie girl, but Toy Story 3 is the origin for the college obsession. (I love when my boy asks, "When I go to college, can I come home and watch TV? Soon can I go to college?")

Well, we might not be ready for college come fall, but there are some big developments and a graduation of sorts underway. First, our boy is VERY GRADUALLY, and haltingly, and with lots and lots of support, reading his short little Open Court first grade books. Let's hear it for his AMAZING tutor, Ms. S. Wow, it's hard, and it's wonderful. I weep a lot. Roo gets exhausted a lot. We plod forward. Twice a week, he sweats and struggles and earns his giant sticker for tapping and blending, for sounding out, "See Tim spin." Second, the talks have begun to plan a graduation from ABA in-home services. Wheeeewwww. No, his behavior isn't perfect, but we might have squeezed as much juice as we can from this lemon, so to speak.By Thanksgiving, we should have 10 hours a week freed up, after almost two years of "helpers" and programs. Next up, social skills classes.

Math still mystifies our boy in a way that is beyond troubling. Numbers seem to have no significance to him. His four year old sister often tries to whisper the answer to the math questions we offer him or otherwise throw him a hint as subtly as, oh, a great big red hickey. Today I gave him a little word problem to ask him to add two plus two, and he goes, "Three! Six? Umm, maybe 10? Can I have a snack? WHAT?!" Meanwhile Peaches is all but thrusting her four fingers in his eyeballs.

At camp, the Roo has a shadow, and she tells us he has been learning to play pickle and kick ball, do hopscotch, make Fortune Tellers (aka cootie catchers), and step dance, among other things. A few days I have needed to pick him up later than she can stay, and he has managed the last half hour of the day okay without her there, just hanging out with other kids his age.

Last weekend, we discovered a place in the area that does FREE therapeutic horseback riding, and while Roo isn't exactly The Boy Who Loved Horses, he did pretty fantastic riding on Mark, the sweet white horse, with the help of three expert volunteers. After, we got to swim in the pool at the ranch, and while neither of my kids can swim yet, it's one area that our little guy is making progress faster than his sister. He still wears his floaties, but he's holding his breath and going under, blowing bubbles, practicing strokes and kicks a bit... he's not afraid of the deep water, and he's making progress.

I have no idea what my son's long-term anything is, and I'm not going to even try to predict tomorrow. The words tomorrow and yesterday still confound him, and he has a poor sense of time. But I am very proud of him, and I love watching him grow, change. I think about his "developmental disorder," but more I think about how far he has come. A year ago, who would have predicted my boy would be sitting straight and tall as instructed as he takes a horseback ride, reading to me proudly about spinning Tim, wanting to master hopscotch, holding his breath underwater?

The long term prognosis for the rooster is that his mama is going to love him.


kim mccafferty said...

There have been no "miracles" since Justin started riding a horse, but he certainly seems happier. I'm wishing that for you as well!

Niksmom said...

Well, from the vantage point of slightly farther away than his mama, I'd say Rooster is doing stupendously. Perfect? Undetectable? No, probably not. But the cloud of angst seems to have lifted to reveal glimmers of rainbow. Yes, I do so just say rainbow. *sticks tongue out, rebelliously*

Reading is huge. The foundation is being laid for so much more. Keep on keeping on, G. One of these days you will be able to look back and see how far Rooster has come— how far you've all come— and the road ahead may be more clear.


shelley said...

This is tremendous. You are a wonderful mother.