Wow. Amazing how those three little words still affect me. Nervous! But I promised, so here it is. (promise found here) Time to compare my goals set back when Kirsten was itty bitty, to now. 15 years later.
A bit of a cumulative IEP round-up. Don’t worry. I’ll make it as painless as possible…
Let’s get right down to business. If you have not already done so, please review our list of goals. As the minutes indicate, today we will discuss 1) our successes, 2) failures, 3) items to add, 4) items to take away, and 5) wish I’d done differently… Let me open by saying:
Is THIS a plan, or what?!!
I’ll admit. I’m a bit of an optimist. A glass-half-full-er. Pollyanna IS my middle name (okay – it’s Joy – close enough…) At the time this list was created, the school had listed her initial goals as teaching K “her name and 3 colors.” Me? What do you find on my list? Um. Algebra.
Hey – it could have happened people! Did you not SEE the latest headline? “Kids With Autism Have Superior Math Skills.” Not so much Kirsten’s strong suit. She is, however, rather talented at manipulative math. That’s where you stand at the counter, with a look of confidence and expectation, and hand the cashier $1 for the $1.79 ice cream. And don’t ya know, it works for her? Voila. Ice Cream!
*note the shoe tapping, pencil thumping, eye rolling* Ahem…
My point? High goals are good! What’s the saying… something about aiming for the moon and landing among the stars? Yeah. That one. *sheepish grin* Here we go…
Emotional stability obtained Okay. Not perfection. About 70% improvement. Huge, right? I’m happy to report, most days are good days!
And ON a good day, we can enjoy movies, plays, meals out, school concerts… all things sit-wait-and-be-quiet. That’s relax and enjoy – not sit next to the aisle, near the exit, escape fully planned, keeping a close eye on K while watching for any signs of distress. Nope. This is in the middle aisle, no fidget toys needed, sit back, and enjoy. Seriously.
Able to communicate To come from near-loss of all language to where we are today… couldn’t ask for more. True, she’s not sharing complex thoughts. Not even close. However, she is able to ask for what she needs. Consistently.
Less frequently, but still-calling-it-a-success… She is able to share things she sees, enjoys, accomplishes, and finds funny. That’s big… Sure. Sometimes it takes a bit of puzzle-master to understand her point – but who doesn’t like a good puzzle??!
Able to understand what others say and feel Progress? Yes. Room to grow? Definitely. I used to have to talk in single words. Now I can talk in full sentences, no emphasis on important words needed. Sure, the sentences still need to be simple. But I’ll take it.
As for understanding what others feel. She has the basics down: happy, sad, angry, and scared. Aaand, she is much less likely to laugh when some poor child is crying. Sometimes even going as far as to ask, “Are you okay?” or noting, “The boy is sad.” *Fewer dirty mommy looks headed my way* Bonus!
Extras, extras, extras… that’s what the rest of these are. We’ve made progress in each. Some more than others. These top three SO overshadow any of the rest. For the sake of time, today we will skip ahead to…
Well… I’d just like to say… you can’t technically fail if you haven’t stopped trying. Oh yeah… should have been a lawyer. There. Another one down. See? Not as bad as you thought, hmmm??!
Items to Add
I seriously can’t believe this wasn’t on the list. ENJOY LIFE! This was the most upsetting part of Kirsten’s regression. She lost that joy. So absolutely, without a doubt, this is going on the top of the list. Bold, all-caps. And yes, we have definitely succeeded. K will actually say, “I’m so happy.” Which of course, makes me so happy.
I’m not surprised to find her joy in life has an inverse correlation with her anxiety level. Down goes the anxiety and up goes the joy!! We call that a two-fer.
Items to Take Away
Here’s where the “aim for the moon” comes in. No, we have not met all these goals. Some we have barely touched. Remember, the future is before us. Who knows what it will bring?! That being said, I stand by my list. Wouldn’t remove a thing.
Wish I’d Done Differently
I don’t look back. What’s the use, really? Can’t change it. But for you, dear reader, I’m going there. Okay. Give me a minute to think… So here’s the thing. Every time I think of something I would do different, a little voice tells me why it didn’t happen!
Conversation goes something like this: “I would have done more of those hands-on things like gardening, cooking, music…” the little voice says, “But she was resistant to everything and would fight doing these things!” Or – “I would have been involved in the groups a few years ahead of Kirsten to make changes. Have things ready for her.” Little voice… “are you kidding me? You had enough trouble keeping up on NOW!” Excuses? Maybe, but…
Okay… got one… I would relax in the fact that I am doing my best. And that is all anyone can do. It is a tremendous responsibility to raise a child with special needs. We become advocates, researchers, therapists, teachers… All performed while managing the day-to-day challenges that life on the spectrum brings. I can look back today and say ENOUGH. I have done enough. Kirsten is happy.
Thank you all for your time. You may be excused.