Tuesday, June 17, 2014

the one year post-therapy mark

july 24, 2013 was harrison's last occupational therapy session with juliana at STAR center. i wrote about the emotions of that day HERE.

it's been nearly one year but it feels like a lifetime ago.

harrison has changed quite a bit since then. i've changed too.

i'll start with myself...

i don't cry nearly as much.
i don't obsess about his quirks nearly as much.
i don't worry about him as much.
i don't worry about his future as much.
i haven't sent panicked text messages to his OTs in a long while.

i still - probably always will -  carefully think through how certain things/situations/environments/activities/food will affect him and do my best to prep him for those. BUT he almost always surprises me and surpasses my expectations, a sign that i could probably loosen up on the detailedness of my prep work just a little bit.

as far as sweet harrison...

my friend, amy, who's been by my side since the very beginning of all this commented last week about how great she thinks harrison is doing. she noticed how much he is talking and how well he is interacting both with kids and adults.

ms. johnson, harrison's first grade teacher, commented that since he had his tonsils out he is like a new kid. she said he asks lots more questions and communicates much more freely/easily. (i do think it's quite likely that the pain and irritation of his nasty tonsils was preventing him from being his full self).

he is able to watch movies. this is a big one. it was one of our main goals for therapy, believe it or not. it may sound silly but typical kids can watch most movies without even thinking about it. we wanted that for harrison too. if you remember back, attempting to watch the lion king movie was my first indication that something wasn't quite right with him. in the year since therapy has ended we've watched more movies than in the previous six years combined. harrison frequently boasts, while the credits roll, "well, that's another one i can check off the list!"

he does not get motion sickness anywhere near as much as he used to. again, this feels huge. it used to be harrsion would get sick once or twice during a 30 minute drive up the highway to meme and papa's house. lately we've been driving back and forth from the mountains (a 1-1.5 hour, curvy drive) and he hasn't gotten car sick in a very long while (with the exception of one day when he had a stomach virus). i've also noticed he seeks out the spinning playground equipment and doesn't have any trouble handling that at all.

i've noticed his ability to interact with kids his own age improving. he still has some trouble standing up for himself at times. he also still has trouble understanding when kids are just joking with him or being hurtful. i wholeheartedly believe these are things that will come with time and practice. the bigger point is that he doesn't shy away from verbal exchanges as much. just this past weekend he was playing at the park and a girl his age came to play on the same equipment as him. old harrison would have walked away but today's harrison stayed, played and actually laughed and talked with her!

harrison and the girl at the park.

confession: i might be crying just a little bit right now.

he is brave, stretching his wings to do things on his own, not wanting to cling to me anymore. a great example of this was his willingness and actual desire to be left at chuck e. cheese to navigate a friend's birthday party in a new environment all by himself. and he did awesome. yesterday i watched him perform well during a group swimming lesson in a loud, crowded pool - amazed.

he is better able to recognize his feelings AND he is better able to tell us about it. we still have quite a ways to go in this area but i am always impressed when he makes baby steps in the right direction. anger is easier for him to deal with than sadness or shame (if he hurts someone and has to apologize). i'd say that is true for every human being. he says "i love you" freely now. it's not every day but when he does say it it's sincere. he even says "i love you more than you think i do". that one gets me every time.

he is better able to handle touch. and, maybe more importantly, he is better able to tell us how he likes or doesn't like to be touched. mostly this arises between him and jeremy in the form of "your whiskers are too scratchy" or "you kiss me too hard" or "no hugs". i am so incredibly proud of harrison for expressing his needs. he will tell me, too, that he doesn't want to be hugged or, sometimes, that he needs squeezes and i accommodate. i've learned how to touch him in a way he finds comfortable so he trusts me. jeremy is still working on building that trust with harrison.

there was a boy in his class last year who was always hugging on harrison and we had to figure out a way to deal with that. harrison said, "i need help telling him to stop" (so proud that he was able to ask for help!) so i spoke with ms. johnson about it and she helped him talk to his buddy. situations like that are milestones. old harrison would have just stood still as stone in freeze mode until his friend got bored and went to hug someone else. today's harrison understands he is allowed to have an opinion about what's happening to him, he is allowed to express that opinion, and he is allowed to seek help if he needs it.

he is able to talk for himself now as opposed to me talking for him. 

i am noticing more abstract, imaginative thinking from him. the other day, in a group of friends, we were talking about an orange tabby cat that typically roams the neighborhood. none of us had seen the cat in a while and harrison said, "maybe he turned into a black ninja cat" and we all laughed. stuff like that never would have happened before.


there are more details i could share, more improvements i've seen...i think what it comes down to, though, is that we've found our "normal". we've found that place where life is moving forward and we aren't racing to keep up. we've reached the plateau on this journey, the place where we can catch our breath, look up and enjoy the view for awhile. and, listen, i know there will always be hills and valleys but it's so lovely to recognize this season of smooth passage.

today harrison knows he has a "really smart brain that works a bit differently than other kids' brains". he knows he has "superhero sensitivities", a really strong sense of smell and taste and hearing and touch. i haven't noticed any negative self-esteem issues with regard to these characteristics, he seems to just accept this is the way he is.

that's my always prayer for him and for me and for each of you - that we would all be able to accept and love ourselves (and each other!) just as we are.

and if you are on a journey today i pray you find your plateau soon.

No comments: