Tonight, John used the asl sign for “shoes,” as we were getting ready to leave his grandparents’ house.
It’s such a simple sign that consists of hitting your fists together a couple of times, as demonstrated in this photo from “Baby Signing Time.” (By the way, we LOVE this series. I have learned so much from it and the boys love it!!!)
It may seem like such a small victory. One word and not even spoken aloud. But that one word means everything to me. It means John is making progress!! He hasn’t picked up a new sign from me in months and tonight he copied me as it was time to get his shoes to leave! He even repeated it a few times on demand just to prove it wasn’t a fluke! I just cannot begin to tell you how proud I am.
Like most mothers out there, I love to brag on my children and their milestones. Smiling, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, etc. I couldn’t wait to proclaim it to the world. “My son is now a smiler/roller/sitter/crawler/walker!!!!” So much joy comes from these milestones. But I will be honest with you, sometimes milestones can be painful.
John hit every milestone up until it was time to talk. With children who have autism, it seems there is a social disconnect in their minds, among other things. I’d hear other mothers talk about their children, who were the same age or sometimes much younger than John and all of the new words they were saying. “Mama.” “Dada.” “I love you.” And in time, I’ve even heard my own younger son babble with inflections right on cue and say words like “dada” “mama” “set” and “hey dada”
I must admit it has been painful. Being constantly told “oh he will catch up.” “So and so’s brother didn’t talk until he was 4.” “At 18 months, our son just exploded into so many words. Just wait!” And 15/18/21/30 months came and went. No word explosion.
I have babysat a few children about my boys’ ages and, up until then, I never realized the extent of the social gap my son was experiencing. One little boy was so so bright (not to say John isn’t! My boy is so bright but just doesn’t have the words to express himself.) at only a couple of months older than John at the time, he knew his colors, shapes, alphabet, and would copy things you’d say and could answer questions. He could also eat really well with a spoon and fork. (Something we are working on. The fork, we can do messily. The spoon is another story. lol) I had to remind myself that some of those things could be considered advanced for a toddler of their age. I had to tell myself “don’t compare. Every child is different” but it’s so hard not to when you see children the same age as your child progressing so much further and so quickly too. You try not to worry but it’s in the back of your mind still.
That’s why I choose to celebrate every little victory. No matter how small! Whether it’s a new sign or behavior, (For example, today john also copied the characters on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as they jumped. He jumped with them!), I’m choosing to be proud of every little accomplishment. Children are such a blessing, even when you are worrying or when they are misbehaving (and we had a rough day with that one!). I believe God sends them to us as 1.) gifts and 2.) lessons. Right now I am receiving a huge life lesson in patience! Haha. I will not be defeated! The devil can’t take this joy from me. My son learned a new word tonight!!! And I am just so proud!