Sometimes progress comes in baby steps, sometimes it comes with as many steps backward as forward, sometimes it pauses for a long plateau.
And every now and then...
...progress comes in giant leaps! Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say a culmination of baby steps that come together all of a sudden in a way that feels like a giant leap!
But however you word it, we had just such a moment last Sunday. And it was nothing short of a miracle as far as I'm concerned.
For sharing time, we went back to sitting in the back of the room. My head was pounding and I wasn't up for the chasing and wrestling that I knew would happen if we tried to sit with his class. He did pretty good sitting with me in the back. When it came time to go to his class, I didn't think he'd go. He was already protesting, "No fih-teee" (his classroom is room #15). I shrugged and figured, let's try anyway.
I was pleasantly surprised when he grudgingly joined the other kids in room #15. He sat on my lap with his sippy cup, not really paying attention or engaged in what was going on, but that was the first time we'd made it that far in a long time so I was happy :). Little did I know what else he had in store!
When his teacher pulled out some pictures to look at, I gently nudged him, "Hey, Bitty, can you see the picture? What is that?" I fully expected his usual non-response, but he surprised me again when he actually looked up at the picture.
His teacher recognized his effort and started asking him questions. He answered. He went back to his sippy as the other kids answered questions about the picture. But when the next picture came out, and the next, he slowly got up from my lap and sat in a chair next to the other children. He was paying attention, and he continued to answer questions.
He went on like that through the rest of the lesson - he was engaged, he was calm and well-behaved. He listened and he participated. I could see that his teacher was really excited with this development too.
By the end of class, I was fighting back tears. Countless months of struggle, and then BAM, just like that! Something clicked and he was no longer isolated in the hallways or even just in the room. Not once did he go for the light switch, or the door; not once did he have a fit. He was part of the class, he learned something, and he was happy! I just can't even describe how exciting this was and still is!
Of course I had to call my parents right away after church to share the exciting news, but I had lost it and was bawling by the time my mom picked up so it took a minute to actually get the words out.
"HE DID IT!!!!!"
Once she realized what I was saying, I think she was crying too. Bitty was totally nonchalant about the whole thing, but it was a huge deal to me.
It almost didn't happen. That morning, I had considered staying home with Bitty while dh took Cuddlebug and Bearhug to church (he teaches a class so he wouldn't be able to sit with Bitty if he took him). I'd had a headache that lasted through the night before and I wasn't sure I was up to a 3-hr "workout" with Bitty. But you know how you just get those feelings sometimes, and that morning it was telling me that Bitty and I needed to be at church. I'm glad I listened.
I am feeling cautiously optimistic about church today. Hopefully Bitty will have another great day like last week. I'm sure we still have some ups and downs ahead of us, but hopefully we have turned a corner...
Autism at church: part 1
Autism at church part 2: Bitty wears. me. out.
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