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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Imitate

"Have a great Spring Break!" wished our older son's afternoon bus driver this Thursday when they brought him home from school. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Spring Break??!!! NOW??! But, what about tomorrow? There's still another day in the week!

Ugh. The Friday before Easter Sunday is Good Friday. No school. Yes, yes I guess I knew that, but my gracious, I did not want to think that one through. The week following Easter with the kids home is not something I want to consider, even though it is here. It is upon me as I type.

I was standing in shock from that news, trying to find my breath but still look cool and collected (I don't know why I bother) as the bus aides waved to our son. That's when it happened.

He waved back to them. It was awkward and unsure, but it was definitely a wave, and while I might have seen him try it once or twice before, this was the first time I took note. He was actually imitating them.


Natural imitation has been a long time coming in this house. Our walls and halls echo from the days of Early Intervention when therapists tackled this issue.

"Do this!" I heard often in their cheerful, sing-song manner.

Our son usually sat at a small table that my parents purchased for him from The Pottery Barn. It was toddler sized and perfect for all sorts of fun toddler-like activities--except in our home, it was our ABA table.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is one type of intervention used for some children on the autistic spectrum to teach basic skill. ABA taught our son to answer to his name.

Sitting at this "happy" little table during his ABA sessions, he would be given a toy to play with briefly. Then, that toy would be taken from him, kept in sight as incentive, while the therapist issued the desired command. Once the child performed the command, the toy was returned.

Tough love, I would tell myself. You must be strong for his future.

Due to the severity of our son's autism, he needed this. Yet, I would not be honest if I said, as his mother, I was perfectly fine with it.

"Do this!" I would hear, as I busied myself nearby, always out of range but keeping our son in my peripheral vision. Ugh. Sometimes I would cry. I cried a lot in those early days.

In time, as he progressed, the verbal prompt of "Do this" was removed, and the therapists would take away the reinforcer, do something and then wait for him to repeat. That was a tough one, and a skill he was still trying to master and then generalize to every day life when he aged out of Early Intervention and moved into school.

Waving was not a skill our son had learned to generalize from the ABA setting into every day life. Social greetings and gestures were a stumbling block. And, with the lack of home support once Early Intervention left, well, we had bigger fish to fry than teaching our son to wave.

I'm not sure how the wave happened this past Thursday (or the other couple times before). I simply breathed in the moment, smiled deeply and walked him from the bus on into the house. Upon entering, I could hear the echos of yesterday as they celebrated the seeds planted so long ago.

"Do this!"



This entry was written in response to the letter prompt "I" in the Blogging A to Z Challenge April 2012.

19 comments:

  1. I don't believe I will ever take for granted a childs wave again. Thank you again for educating us on your journey and the daily challenges you face.

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  2. Replies
    1. I love those moments when progress catches you by surprise. :)

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  3. That is amazing! Three cheers for him!!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

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  4. A milestone! Progress is such a beautiful thing. Your boys are moving forward. They're going at their own rates, in their own time, but they're moving FORWARD. This makes me happy, so I can only imagine how it feels for you. :O)

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    1. Thank you, and yes. I guess we are doing it our way.

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  5. That was a wonderful moment for you to cherish.

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    1. Thanks for sharing it with me. I don't think I'll soon forget.

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  6. Ya know, you are the perfect balance, I know you don't see this, but I sure do. You fall in defeat and then you rise in celebration. Do you know that you are living the life we all live only your's is in 3D, Hi Def, in your face! All the little moments so many mom's and dad's take in stride, are monumental for you and your boys. The set backs we all faced are gigantic in your world, but you get right back up and forge on. It is no wonder to me that those delightfully spirited young men continue to move themselves forward. Even if they sometimes take 2 steps back and then one forward...they will forge ahead exactly like you do. ♥
    *waving with new found excitement to you and yours*

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    1. I just love you Jo. Thank you for getting it.

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  7. Every small step matters. It takes some kind of patience to continue to emphasize the things that help him to learn, over, and over again.

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  8. It can be hard to see progress in the midst of a busy life - congrats Amy for both the milestone and the chance to acknowledge it!

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  9. Very nice...lots of little milestones lately! :)

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  10. Woot! When thinking of my blessings that come along with Autism, I always think of times like this...when we can appreciate how important and awesome something as simple as a wave is to us is such a amazing leap for them.

    Hope you are heavily medicated and make it through Spring Break unscathed. I've already moved into the deep breathing portion of spring break...drinking routinely on the hour up next.

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  11. What a landmark moment to come in such an unexpected way. Now you know that things are sticking in that little mind and will find their own way out in time. At least you had a happy incident to start the ordeal of spring vacation. I'm happy for you.

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