Once a year our church puts on a primary program during sacrament meeting. All the kids in the ward share what they learned throughout the year through singing and speaking parts. Our ward consists of 150 kids so it is a big production for all those involved.
Last Sunday was our ward's primary program and Elise's first one participating in. When the speaking parts were assigned and passed out to each child, I was pleased to know that Elise had a speaking part as well. It is so nice to know and feel of everyone's accepting and including Elise in our church. The leaders and teachers have all done a remarkable job at tending to "the one" just as Christ would have done. Even though she is nonverbal and doesn't show interest or involvement in what others are doing, I know she has a voice and wants to feel loved and included just as much if not more than other kids.
Elise's "helper" whose calling in our ward is specifically to be with Elise for the last two hours of church has done an outstanding job and I'm so thankful for her. I've mentioned it several times to her but I don't think she fully grasps just how needed and helpful she is to Elise and me. After sacrament meeting gets done, she comes and gets Elise to take her to class. Frequently Elise will point to her bag repeatedly because she knows there are fruit snacks inside. Her helper donates a lot of fruit snacks for this little girl! When Elise needs a break, her helper is so good to take her on walks or step outside for a little bit.
Music time during primary for Elise is her happy place. When the primary was practicing for the program one Sunday, all the kids began singing, "Follow the Prophet." For some reason, this song has become one of Elise's favorite songs and she would giggle, twirl, and smile her wipe-open mouth smile showing just a little bit of her tongue sticking out to one side. Oh this girl knows how to make others and me smile!
The day of the program I had gotten everyone ready for church and was just about to leave when I picked up her ipad and noticed her communication app, Proloquo2go wasn't on her ipad anymore. I got a sick feeling and knew her little brother had deleted the app. Normally this wouldn't have been such a big deal but Elise was speaking in the primary program and church was starting in 20 minutes.
She had to have the app.
I needed her to have the app.
This may not have been a big deal to anyone else but me, but I wanted so badly for her to say her part, to be a part of something that so often she isn't a part of.
I said a silent prayer and tried to think of what to do amid all the chaos in my head. I went right to the app store where I began downloading it again. It was going very slowly since it is such a big file. I already knew all the data we had worked so hard at setting up would be lost because I hadn't backed it up to our computer yet.
Five minutes before church started the app was downloaded and I had managed to download her "Ella" voice as well. There are many different kinds of voices and accents on the app, but Ella is Elise's voice. This again was something that meant a lot to me, hearing "Elise's voice" rather than a robotic woman's voice.
We arrived. I was flustered but we were there and Elise was going to be able to say her part. The app downloaded an updated version of Proloquo that was just enough different so I struggled trying to figure out how to type in her speaking part. Once I figured that out I breathed a sigh of relief and again silently thanked Heavenly Father for His help.
My little boy deleted Elise's app at one of the worst times possible. However that gave me a chance to see God's hand at work. He made it possible for everything that meant so much to me to come together in perfect timing. It was a witness to me that He really is in charge and how important it is to turn to Him for help.
Elise was the first one to start the program. Her helper took her hand and walked with her up to the podium then helped her stand on the stool. She assisted Elise in touching her speaking part which was,
"I am a child of God."
Tears filled my eyes. Often I wonder what her real voice sounds like. I frequently have dreams of her speaking to me and feel so elated at hearing her. That moment, that two-second moment felt like she had really spoken and I felt that same elation as when I dream of her. Her spirit is so strong and she bore a powerful witness that she is a child of God, as are all of us. It still amazes me how a two-second moment mattered to our Heavenly Father because He knew how much it would mean to me. It testified to me that He is very aware of and cares for the One.
Elise's first day of developmental preschool was, um well, a few weeks ago. Here is the little beauty though. She cooperated so well with pictures before the bus came that I just kept snapping photo after photo, capturing some of her looks I've never recorded before.
When Elise is listening intently to something, she often looks up and to the side. She loves different sounds but the ones that create this kind of reaction are loud noises (lawn mower, mixer, blow dryer, vacuum) or her favorite songs.
Both Elise and I had a much better experience with the bus this go around than before. I think this little lady is a pro now!
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!