by Shannon Penrod
Today I was sitting at the table with my son working on his homework. He is in kindergarten and gets a packet of homework every Friday to take home and work on. It isn’t due until Wednesday but after lunch on Friday we sit down and do the entire packet. You might think that’s very disciplined of me, the truth is that it is the only moment in the week that my son doesn’t have therapy scheduled, so it literally has to get done then.
The first time we did homework it took over 2 hours and was so painful I cried afterwards. But both my husband and I have stuck to our committment that there is no getting out of it –for anyone. I am amazed that 2 short months later it is actually one of my favorite times of the week. It is an amazing part of my journey with my son.
Today was extraordinary. He had a worksheet with six pictures, cartoon drawings, really. He was supposed to identify the first letter of the word depicted in the picture and if it started with a “B” to write the letter “B”. The fact that he can do this worksheet at all is exciting and filled me with hope for all of the things to come.
The third picture was of a bathtub, which he quickly identified as a “B” word as he was writing the letter he said to me, “There’s a boy in the bath, boy starts with “B” too.”
I was thrilled and praised him. He looked closer at the cartoon and said, “The boy look mad.”
I looked at the picture and saw that indeed the boy did look mad and I agreed with my son, thinking how wonderful that he picked up on the boy’s emotion completely unprompted. Then he said to me “Why he mad?”
I got goosebumps, this was officially huge now – Why questions have come more and more, but this was a why about emotion that someone else was feeling. I was so excited I could only say, “I don’t know why he’s mad.”
Without missing a beat my son said “He want to stay dirty?”
I swear to you I heard angels singing. I grabbed my son and kissed him and told him what a good boy he was. “Good talking!” I told him.
For those of you who don’t know children on the spectrum, you’re probably thinking, “I don’t get it.” But this was huge! Anytime a child with autism can begin to put themselves into the thoughts or emotions of another person, it’s HUGE – dance around the kitchen then get on your knees and thank GOD, HUGE!
That little conversation that most parents would have taken for granted had been 3 years, dozens of behavioral therapists, two fund raisers, 1,000s of hours of therapy, 100s of gluten free/casein free recipes, one DAN doctor, and endless sleepless nights spent worrying in the making. And it was all worth it. It was a “just everyday miracle”, the kind I like the best.