Janey woke this morning at six, which is a pretty typical time for her. She's been sleeping better lately, or I should say she's in a good sleeping phase, as that goes back and forth. She woke up cheerful and singing, which is the case about half the days, and is more the case if she wakes up after having crawled into bed with Tony and me during the night, and one of us is still in bed. I think she has a fear of being alone. She got up and right away started her morning list of wants "Strawberry milk, please! Toast and butter, please! I want bacon! I want oatmeal!" Breakfast is her big meal, and she ate most all of those!
After eating, Janey wanted some videos, and I put them on, and changed them at her will. She is less into Netflix lately, probably because we were having some kind of problem with the remote for a while, and it wasn't responding to her button pushes, which made her very upset. So now she is relaying on good old fashioned VHSs, which don't fail her much! After a bit of watching, she fell back asleep, which is another new pattern for her. It makes it a little tricky getting her ready for school. I put it off until the last possible moment, but she is still very annoyed when I wake her to get dressed.
Dressing goes fairly well, and hair brushing relatively well. Janey doesn't care for her hair being brushed at all, but she now tolerates. I say most days "I'm going to be extra gentle today" and if I skip it, she's say "EXTRA GENTLE!" and remind me. I got her teeth brushed and her coat on and we got out the door. However, Janey suddenly ran back in and got a book she'd been into lately---a Wo Wo Wubsey book called "A Tale of Tails" I asked her if she wanted to take it in the car, and she excitedly jumped, happy I'd figured her out.
The ride to school was great, as it's Christmas music season! We listened to a Boston Pops singalong of modern Christmas songs, which ended with a big doing of "Jingle Bells" Janey was clapping and smiling and laughing, and I loved seeing it. She was so thrilled just to hear the songs she knows, and appreciative of the arrangement. I love seeing her enjoy music!
When we got to school, Janey insisted on bringing the book in with us. That made me very happy. It's recent she's falling in love with certain books, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I have used the methods I used with the boys over the years to try to get her to become book obsessed---having many, many books around the house, always dropping everything if she wants to be read to, leaving books she might like where she'll find them on her own, instead of trying to force her to listen to them, and not treating books like they were made of glass---letting them be as freely used as toys would be (A million thanks to Mary O'Grady Leonhardt, whose book Keeping Kids Reading has inspired me so much so many times---she reads this blog, and it's to me like having one of my idols read it!) These methods seem to be finally paying off with Janey, and she's developing a huge attachment to some books, and wanting them read over and over. With the recently discovery she can at least read some, this means even more to me.
Janey walked into the school with a smile, holding her book. One of the sweet girls from her class saw her and walked down with us to her room, and Janey entered the classroom as happy as could be, book in hand, ready for her day.
On my drive home, for some reason I started thinking about progress. On the outside, it might seem like Janey hasn't made a lot of progress over the years. If you went strictly by test results, by speech, by graphing charts, it would look like she hasn't. She still doesn't talk much. She still couldn't pass a test requiring basic preschool skills like knowing shapes and colors and letters. She isn't fully toilet trained. She doesn't dress herself well. She requires watching every second. She is still very, very autistic.
However, thinking about the morning, I realized that there is actually a lot of progress that has been made, in less tangible ways. From sleep getting a little better, to her tolerating things like hair brushing, to her letting me know she wanted the book with us, to her love of music being ever more shared with others, to her happy entry into the school and her smile at her friend, to just being more consistent, more predictable, more present---the days are easier than they used to be. She is still very tough. If you compared her to other kids her age---well, that would be depressing. She is still intellectually disabled. However, through her own maturing and our own increasing ability to understand her, she is progressing. She's making significant progress, in ways that can be felt more than quantified. An ordinary morning, broken down, is a series of little moments of progress. You go, Janey!