Cal is 2 years old. He is full of energy and personality. Elise and Cal have a very unique relationship. They don't read books or build blocks together. They don't spend endless hours playing animals like my older daughter and son used to when they were their age.
Instead their days are somewhat isolated from one another while Elise is in therapy or at school. The time that Cal is around Elise is sometimes fascinating to observe. Well before age 2, Cal was watching us and how we interacted with Elise. Observation and imitation are key elements in learning. I hadn't known that at such an early age he was watching us with her until one day I told Cal it was time to get in the car to go to therapy. Without prompt he called, "Eese, Eese!" He went looking for her and when he found her he grabbed her hand and led her down the stairs. Of course I was shocked at what I had just witnessed. I opened the door and Cal led her to her side of the van where he waited for me to help her in. It was incredibly sweet. The above pictures are the ones I took of this moment.
Since then I always find him taking Elise by the hand, playing the big brother role. He has definitely assumed this responsibility on his own and it is so interesting to see. When she's hitting herself in the eye, he'll take her chewy and try to put it in her mouth. Sometimes he'll try to feed her pretzels and it makes me laugh! I get worried she'll bite his fingers and he must be too because he usually ends up dropping them as soon as they touch her lips. He'll even try to help her with her cup. My favorite thing is to just sit back and watch how they interact with each other. It's funny, fascinating and sweet. I told Cal to share his juice box with her and he just held it by her, almost getting mad that she wasn't drinking what he was trying to share with her. Elise on the other hand didn't know how to manipulate the juice box and I just had to smile. Both of them were trying their hardest.
Of course there are days when "big brother" gets mad at Elise for drinking water out of his cup then throws it across the room. He's learned to yell when she's about to grab some food off the counter and it's bound to be a mess. And then there's their hitting matches. Those are fun.
However this little, big brother has matured and learned to look after someone other than himself. That's a pretty big thing to learn at his age. He is imitating what we do with her. This has taught me how powerful our examples are and how much our children observe our actions.
President Brigham Young once said, “If each and every one of us who are parents will reflect upon the responsibilities devolving upon us, we shall come to the conclusion that we should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.”
Today is my little girl's birthday and she turned 5! I thought I'd celebrate this last year through pictures. Happy Birthday sweet girl.
Elise's behaviors have diminished greatly over the last year. She is much more content and happy and I love it! We can't get enough of her smiles and giggles.
As I've reflected on where Elise was a year ago I can certainly say she's accomplished a lot. Her motor planning with going up any playground equipment then figuring out how to position her body to sit on a slide then push herself down has improved and her movements are quicker. She learned how to climb into the car then sit down in her seat. This still takes some prompting but I don't have to physically do it all for her anymore. She can sit criss cross now, put stars on a star stacker toy, and put beans in a glass soda bottle.
At the end of summer Elise could hold herself up in the swimming pool with a life jacket on for about 30 seconds! This was an amazing improvement. When we first started taking her to the pool, if we at all let go of our strong hold on her then she'd fall face forward into the water. She also learned at the end of summer to scroll on her ipad which has opened up so many possibilities for her communication now.
She has also learned to bring things to me she wants. For this to happen they're mostly highly motivating items like a bag of marshmallows, a juice box, or her ipad. I could probably be on a commercial for Otterbox and show all the different ways your ipad will survive because of its strong, durable case. Her ipad has survived being thrown down the stairs multiple times, thrown onto tile floor, being stepped on, and thrown some more. It's been through a lot!
Just a few of the many family members and friends who love and adore Elise. They are all so good to her and we feel incredibly blessed to have family who do their best to include and help her. We have such an awesome support system!
Some days are just plain hard for this sweetie. Sometimes she's done and refuses to go anymore then sits in the dirt and has a meltdown. Sometimes sleep doesn't come easily for her or she wakes up in the night unable to go back to sleep. Sometimes she tries so hard to use her hands but they don't do what I know she intends for them to do. Sometimes I know she wants something but can't relay it to me and it is so frustrating to her. Sometimes I just ache to break the silence between us. These are the moments I so wish I could take this burden from her.
We took 4 trips to Primary Children's Hospital this year for Elise. She had a variety of tests done and although nothing has presented itself we are further ahead in knowing what she doesn't have and know overall she is a fairly healthy little girl. She is a champ.
In addition to her other therapies, this summer Elise was able to be in equine (horse) therapy. It wasn't the best of experiences for her since it was in the afternoon and she was tired by that point. Near the end of her sessions she did better with Bryn riding behind her though. Hopefully this next summer will go better for her.
And of course she was the most adorable witch for Halloween! Compliments to her older sister Bryn for making a Halloween necklace to match her outfit. Happy birthday Princess!!! You are loved and adored by many and we feel privileged to have you as our daughter.
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!