A good friend told me years ago at the start of our new journey that life with a special needs child would significantly get easier around age 6.
Well we have hit that mark. Today is Elise's 6th birthday. I know each situation and each child is different however for us, for Elise, I can whole heartedly say life has gotten significantly easier. Just this past year Elise has made some phenomenal progress that even family and friends have noticed and commented on. Therapies have stabilized and paperwork is little to none now.
So many have asked how she's doing and what improvements we're seeing in her these days. so in honor of her today I'd like to highlight all the more obvious things she is able to do now:
Every Sunday from last January until May, I would have to get up to leave our church services with Elise because it was too overwhelming for her and she couldn't handle the hour long sacrament meeting. From May until November things improved and we didn't have to leave quite as often. And since November I've only left with her a time or two! She's content, she sits most of that hour which is incredible, and she is a pure delight. One lady who was sitting behind us told me with tears in her eyes how much she loved watching Elise throughout the meeting, especially when Elise's eyes would fixate on a particular spot and she'd smile as if she were among angels.
Elise's sleep patterns have improved immensely this last year. Most of that is due to starting her on sleeping medication the beginning of last year. It was a last resort and we were very hesitant putting her on medication but since we did she goes down now without a 2-3 hour fight, sleeps through the night, and is much more alert to be able to handle all her therapies. Sleep makes a huge difference and we saw the effects in her once she started to actually get some decent sleep. We stopped medication in September and she can sleep easily without it now. It almost seemed like the medicine helped reset her body. At times we still use it here and there when things are off but she's sleeping now!
She can identify around 20 objects correctly when we hold up 2 pictures at a time. Her therapists have taken a lot of data on this and after months of testing her on these pictures we feel she is accurately and intentionally identifying them now!
Elise can handle a back to back therapy session without any meltdowns and this includes walking 10 minutes on the treadmill with assistance (something I would've never dreamed she'd enjoy).
She can spoon feed herself applesauce and yogurt beautifully!
Her right hand use is increasing and isn't just hanging there all the time.
She's actually playing with certain toys independently for a few minutes at a time during the day without prompting! All these of course are music toys and don't require a ton of activation but she's slowly increasing different things she's able to do other than watch her shows.
Elise knows what she wants and lets us know! She's very opinionated and can now show us by getting us and dragging us to whatever it is she wants.
And her communication with her device is unbelievably different than it was a year ago! She's gone from 3 pictures across the screen to 20 pictures. She's identifying what she wants to eat, play with, watch, and read! It's exciting to see and we're realizing she has so much potential.
I think overall we've determined her happy demeanor and very infrequent behaviors are due to better quality and quantity of sleep, being able to actually communicate with us and tell us what she wants, and just developmentally getting older (hence the magical age of 6).
We love all Elise's quirks that makes our home so interesting each day. Cal's learned to like Elise always rubbing his hair, Brock's learned to tolerate and at times enjoy her always sitting on him, and Bryn's learned how to play with her sister in different ways than she normally would have.
In my journal entry of Elise when she was 8 months old, before we knew anything was going on I wrote something profound that I believe applies even more so today,
"People just smile looking at you. They all love you! I know you’re going to be a great contribution to our family! You are and will be such a light and bring happiness into our home. Always remember this gift you have."
Happy birthday sweet girl, we love you.
I LOVE being a mom to my 5 kids; one with special needs. There is no greater joy than being a parent! I love each one individually but this blog will mostly focus on our daughter with special needs and our journey with her. Thanks for reading!