Why do I save that brush (See Day #147- You Wanna Brush My What?)?
To know how far we’ve come.
I see quotes like these floating around social media outlets that encourage us to keep looking forward.
“Look forward with hope and not backward with regret.”
“Don’t look back you’re not going that way.”
“Spending time complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any better.”
While I generally agree with these sentiments – I do not agree when it comes to being the mom of a child on the spectrum. We must look back. We need to look back. We need to do it often.
Why? Because in difficult moments we need to think about how far our child has come.
Tucker rarely rocks any more.
Tucker initiates conversation.
Tucker has three goals left on his IEP.
Tucker knows when he is about to have a meltdown.
Tucker’s outbursts have faded in number and intensity.
Tucker will give me eye contact for five seconds at a time.
Tucker removes himself when he is about to go on overload.
Tucker is able to go to a mall, to Wal-Mart, to Target….to so many places.
Tucker is able to close his eyes and eyes to block out some of his surroundings.
Remembering and reflecting on the past is helpful in really understanding how far we have come.
Because “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.”
The rocking is not gone. Six weeks ago at Target I looked at him and he was rocking back and forth, staring at the ceiling, and patting his chest.
He initiates conversation about things he knows – still not inquiring about the ‘other.’
There are still three goals.
Meltdowns and outbursts still happen.
Five Seconds? The five seconds only come after a reminder.
He still has to remove himself to another room – he cannot calm himself around others.
He’ll go in, but still prefers to sit in the car.
He still has to close his eyes and put his hand over his ears.
I was brought back to this over the weekend. A friend of mine posted a video of her son who was joined by some classmates during recess. She wrote, “As I type this, big, fat droplets of tears are streaming down my face. I cannot even put into words what watching this felt like. He is hanging out with a bunch of other kids on the playground, and for the second day in a row, has managed to bring them into HIS world and teach them one of the games he likes to play on the big map. This is the same child that I used to spend hour after hour following after, trying desperately to teach him how to interact and pretend play.”
Here’s the real kicker. She knows, we all know, that this is a moment to treasure, a moment to hold onto. Why? No matter how much progress is made – it can be taken away in an instant. No one in the autism community knows why sudden regression happens – but it does. It’s just one of the reason many of us document so much – we need those moments.
This is why we look back. We look back at those moments so we have hope for the future. Hope that more progress is made.
This is why I open that drawer every morning. Not to grab a comb, but to look at the brush. I look at it and take a deep breath. I look in the mirror and think about how far we have come. It has been six years since we used that brush and in that moment I have hope.
Hope for learned coping skills.
Hope for a better day.
Hope for him.