Ethan has blown our minds this year. He’s doing really well academically, far exceeding reasonable expectations within a calendar year. He no longer requires occupational therapy services at school as his penmanship has drastically improved. And to top it off, he is interested in interacting with peers and spends more time with them than ever before.
The most dramatic change has happened with his speech and language. A year ago, we were thrilled if he answered a yes or no question. That would have been the only way to engage him in anything that even resembles a conversation. Now, he gets off the bus and tells me about his day. He’ll say whom he sat with at lunch (the same adorable girl every day), whether they played outside or inside at recess, if they had art or went to the library, etc. He’s still figuring out things like grammar, sentence structure, and pragmatics, but he’s communicating! The speech pathologist at his school is a miracle worker. Thanks to her training in the prompt method and passion for her work, he is able to create the ‘B’, ‘F’, ‘G’, and ‘th’ sounds (with ‘V’ on the way) for the first time. It’s much easier to understand him than ever before. His use of sign language has also grown and changed and he’ll sign long phrases now or entire songs rather than the occasional word.
Ethan and Dazzler make a pretty sweet team. After he fell asleep last night, I called her name several times, even using the command ‘Come’, which she ignored. She has never ignored that command. I went into the room and she was sitting at the edge of his bed wagging her tail. I could tell that part of her wanted to go play and hang out with me, but she was determined to stay in his room and hang out while he slept. She’s so good to him. The companionship she provides him is a bonus that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Ethan is excited to play his second season of T-ball for the Miracle League. Last year he didn't have a grasp of how the game is structured and how to play by the rules. I think he's come so far cognitively in the past 12 months that we might see him do a little more than just run aimlessly in the outfield! Either way, he enjoys it so much and it's always so uplifting to see the other families at the games. We're also hoping to get him on the Special Olympics soccer team.
We’ve not been without our uphill moments this year, but when I look at everything that has happened with a wider lens – I have to say it’s quite a beautiful picture.