Time line of events. You can find all these in our old blogs. Read the update above.
My little boy has grown so much over the last year, that I haven't even blogged his growth because it has gone so fast. I am so thankful for all the work that so many people have put into him.
I just got the paperwork to send Zion to Kindergarten. He has his preview day March 12th. He will probably have one year with a para and then try to do it on his own.
It is a scary thing for a mom to send their child with Autism to a regular classroom setting. I am so scared. I sorta dread it as the time gets sooner. But this is just one step in his healing.
He now is talking and has a pretty big vocabulary. Most of the time we still have a hard time understanding him, but it gets clearer and clearer each day. Before his words would express his immediate need. Such as "Juice!!" or "Potty !!", Now he comes in singing the Alladin theme song. Or tells us that he wants pizza, in a full sentence. I love to hear his thoughts. I love to hear him sing. I love to hear him at all. It is joy to my ears.
I sometimes am scared that his progress will stop tomorrow. He turns five this year, the magic age of five. Where all research says that the brain slows its growth and learning slows down. I fear that he will stay at this stage forever. Then I have to remember how wonderful he is, and affirm to myself that if God chose to do that, I could handle it. Look how much we have handled so far. God is so good. He gave me this child, this wonderful child, because he knew that this child would need double the love and patience.
Please protect my little bird from the vultures in a regular school. Protect his heart from those who do not understand the mysterious world of Autism. May he be a light of understanding to people that are scared of things they don't understand. And may people see God in my son. Because I do everyday.
September 1 2006
Since we first wrote Zion's Story things have drastically changed in many areas of his life. First of all he has excelled in Floortime Therapy. In late August he started at special education preschool. Before school began, his Floortime therapist asked me to bring Zion in to use as an example of how to implement Floortime techniques. One of the teachers asked us if we had some sort of video of what Zion was like before Floortime was implemented. I wish I had been that smart!!! The changes are so dramatic, I don't think I would have believed it to be the same child, if I didn't know better!
Zion was diagnosed last March. Seven months ago Zion would not keep his eyes open outside of our home. He was completely non-verbal. No words at all! He would babble a little: mamama, bababa, but that was all. Today Zion can say and understand probably forty words. His comprehension has gone way up also. He can take four or five commands: for example, "go get a diaper" and "go get your blanket". He is starting to try and sing the actual words to songs instead of just humming. He walks on his own and doesn't have to be carried everywhere (my back has gotten a break). We can now go to the mall and he looks around and enjoys the sight of other children and even greets people by saying "hello" and "bye-bye". The changes that have taken place are astounding. I truly believe that God sent Floortime Therapy to us.
If you saw Zion from a distance you would not believe that there was anything wrong or different about him. He now interacts with his teachers and is starting to even notice his other classmates. He absolutely loves to go to school each day. And when I pick him up he sees me from down the hall and starts screaming for me. It is the highlight of my day. On Thursday he even said, "hi mama". His first sentence. I am even crying as I write it.
He still has so far to go. Potty Training. Dressing himself. Brushing Teeth. ABC's. 123's. Kindergarten. I hold on to the hope and know that Zion will go to Kindergarten just like any other five year old. I look forward to each day because he continually amazes me.
In many ways, Zion is a normal boy. He loves to run, climb, and play. He enjoys stacking blocks and doing puzzles just like many of his toddler peers. Unlike his peers, however, Zion does not seem to be interested in laughing and playing with other kids. Instead, he “zones out” while looking at an aquarium or playing with a string of beads. In unfamiliar situations or new places, he becomes quite uncomfortable. Sometimes he hides his eyes or lies on the floor, sometimes he breaks out into a full tantrum. Also unlike most of his peers, Zion has difficulty communicating. At age three, he only speaks a handful of words and often confuses their context. Sometimes it seems like he is in his own world in some far off place. Other times, it seems like his brain is not “wired” correctly to handle everyday word associations and social cues. Many of Zion’s challenges started as subtle idiosyncrasies during his second year of life, but became noticeable enough that he was diagnosed with Autism at 32 months. We are now on a quest to learn everything we can about Autism and its treatment. In just a few short months, Zion has made great strides with the help of various therapists – one of the most valuable being is his own mom who has regularly scheduled “therapy” sessions several times each day. Zion is speaking new words every day. He starts public preschool this fall and our hope is that he will someday participate in a normal classroom environment. For now, though, we are taking one day at a time as we celebrate small victories like hearing Zion say “mama” in the right context or a trip outside the house without meltdown.