Posted by Rebecca Bingham, Special Needs Mommie | Posted in The Special Needs Mommy | Posted on 11-05-2011
Tags: graduation, kindergarten
About 4 years ago is when we started down the path of really understanding what it meant to have a child with special needs. In the short term, that meant lots and lots of appointments. Doctors, teachers, evaluations, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, early intervention classes……get the idea? I had three kids and one on the way and was trying to juggle the normal mom stuff with all the therapies and places I needed to be each day. I literally ran all day long. Every second was a learning opportunity, every set of stairs was a chance to practice our PT, every interaction was done with the multiple goals lurking in the back of our minds and wondering how we could incorporate those goals into the daily life of our family. Without the help of our OT/Nanny Maria, I am sure none of us would have made it.
Today I took Tiny to her kindergarten assessment. This is my child that at the age of two couldn’t talk, wouldn’t walk and very rarely engaged with us. We got very little eye contact and very little voluntary body movement. I think that I described her at the time as a “lump on a log”. When she started early intervention classes she would talk so quietly that one of her goals became to speak NOT in her ‘fairy voice”. She was so small, she was still wearing 12 month sized clothing and was trying really hard to pass the 22 pound mark. Every doctors visit we got the same answer; she was considered “failure to thrive”. Sounds ominous, huh? But she wasn’t thriving, it kind of felt like she was disappearing. Since her brother (only 19 months older) was such an enormous force of nature it made the contrast seem even greater.
Today she confirmed what we already really knew. She was all caught up. All those hours of working on Tiny’s body to make it strong have turned her into a little dancer. All those exercises to help her with her balance have helped her be able to swim and kick a ball and ride a bike. The hours and hours of speech therapy have helped her become a chatterbox, and many days we pray for her “fairy voice” to make a reappearance. The eating therapy has helped produce a child that is still tiny and impossibly picky about food, but is thriving and growing and is healthy. The early intervention classes showed us ways to help her learn in her everyday life and instill a love of school and playing with other children. She is right on target developmentally and at this point she won’t even need any pull out help. There are still things we need to watch out for as she gets older, but so far she is right on track. For a tiny girl who had such a rough start, I am pretty amazed and thrilled at how well she is doing. It feels like all that hard work has paid off.
Not all parents who have kids with special needs with be able to graduate them from that world to the world of “typical”. Most of them won’t. And we work just as hard with those kids, we just don’t get to see so much black and white progress. My other two kids that do all the same therapies will never be on that typical list. Today we graduated from being a family with three special needs kids, to a family with just two. There are no IEP’s in her future. No more therapy appointments. No more extra doctors. It feels strangely sad. Mostly it feels exciting. It feels like I have more time in my world and I can shift my mom worry’s to another set of issues. Things like whether she will make friends and if she will be too scared to raise her hand for the hall pass.
Congratulations to my funny, strong and spicy Tiny. And best of luck to her teachers.