As usual, there’s been an excess of activity and a paucity of time in which to write.
Nik has been battling his eighth round of an ear infection (the same one? different?) since June second and we’ve not slept through the night in a while; my thoughts are as scattered as the leaves which are now falling in my yard. Nik will have surgery next week to remove one of the myringotomy tubes; the ENT doctor thinks it may have developed a biofilm and could be the cause of the unremitting infection. I sincerely hope it works —I miss my sleep! And my ability to string together thoughts long enough to remember them when I want to write them down.
Niksdad finally landed a nursing job! He is now working in a pediatric facility very close to home. He has a short commute, four ten-hour days, weekends and holidays off —it’s a dream come true! And so nice to send him out the door each morning with a little more spring to his step and a smile on his face. Whew; it’s been a long seven months!
But what I really want to share with you is this little snippet from an email I just sent to our regional Prentke Romich representative, Janet, to update her on Nik’s progress with his trial of the Vantage Lite (VL for short). It’s one I’ve been meaning to share but the significance of it really hit home with me yesterday; my mother shared with me a very disturbing sentimentone of her friends expressed. This “friend” has known our family for a few years and has met Nik on many occasions; she also used to work as a counselor for children in a special education program in our state. Imagine my shock to learn that she told my mother that she thinks Nik “could talk if he wanted to; I think they just baby him too much so he isn’t motivated.” (I think my jaw hit the floor so hard and fast that I may have chipped a tooth on impact.)
Really, this woman did, in fact, say those words to my mother. My mother who is my biggest cheerleader and Nik’s greatest fan. I’m amazed this “friend” is still alive. (Side note: I did ask my mother not to tell me any more such stories; I don’t need the added agita!)
So it was with great pride that I wrote this brief update to Janet tonight:
We have had some pretty amazing communication breakthroughs, though. I’ve shown the HELP icon on the core and taught him to use “Help, please” when he’s having trouble or when he’s upset. It helped to defuse a potentially ugly meltdown last week.
We were sitting at the dining room table, working on colors and blocks. Nik got frustrated and threw his orange blocks into the kitchen. I told him I didn’t like that and I took the rest of the blocks away. HE LOST IT. Biting himself, hitting, thrashing, spittle flying…ugly. I was able to get down on his level and ask him to stop and use his words to tell me what he needed. He used the VL to tell me he wanted his ORANGE blocks (the ones he had thrown into the other room!). I asked him if he wanted my help getting them. He indicated “Help, please. Want blocks. Orange blocks.” I asked if he wanted me to help him get them. He signed “please” and I pushed the VL to him and said “use your words, please.” It took him a couple of tries but he told me “Help, please” again.
I got him down from the table and we picked up his blocks. He ran to the family room sofa squealing with delight. A minute later, he came to the gate and signed “more.” I brought the VL over to him and asked him to use his box of words to tell me what he wanted. He told me “want blocks.” Aha! “Nik, do you want the rest of your blocks?” I asked. He signed “please” then used the VL to ask for his blocks again. He spent the next thirty minutes very happily playing with his blocks.
It felt like a huge breakthrough in his understanding of the power of the VL.
We’re currently working on farm animals and he seems to be picking up on them fairly quickly. Oh, and he asked for a redhead the other day! He was trying to see what other colors were available and began pushing all the icons. He went a couple of screens in and the next thing Miss M and I heard was “Want redhead!” Guess you had to be there, but we’re still laughing about it.
What this shows me —reaffirms, really, what I’ve known all along —is how motivated my child is to communicate. Sometimes I think he’s merely waiting for the rest of us to catch up to him.