Although progress may seem slow, especially compared with other kids, I am happy with Nathan’s gains after a year.
1. Nathan can now sit in church for the whole hour. Yes I still have hug him and rock him to try to settle him and constantly remind him that “at church we have to be quiet”. But this is far from how he was at the beginning of 2011. When his crying was be unbearable, Papa had to take him out and we would have to meet them after church.
2. Nathan can better tell me his wants. In 2010, after getting advise from his speech therapist, I would hold on to food/snacks until he can tell me, “Give me…please.” I remember constantly asking him to say “give me” throughout that year. That never happened. He started to ask, “give me ” in the first quarter of 2011. Everything he asked for, I gave to him, as quickly as I could for I was celebrating his progress. Soon enough, he generalized this skill. At the end of 2011 he did not only ask for food or things. He can say, “I want to go…”, “I want to watch…”, “I want to touch…”, “I want to “. His first form of communication. Prior to this he could talk in clear sentences but only to describe his environment, never really to communicate to people around him.
3. He now understands “yes” and “no”. Before, it was difficult for me to tell if he really knew what those words meant. It’d teach him to respond with either a “yes” or “no” and he would but I wasn’t sure if he was just echoing me. Now, I am now convinced he understands.
4. His attention span seems better. He can sit with his visitors and cooperate for 10 to 15 minutes with meaningful eye contact. Even much longer with activities that interest him such as listening and dancing to music.
Of course, a lot has to be done for Nathan to progress farther. I hope the following are reasonable targets for the year ahead:
A. Better waiting skills. It’s really difficult letting him stand in line. Traveling with Nathan for more than 3 hours is one of my stressful moments.
B. Better communication skills. Although Nathan has started expressing his wants, many times he still gets crying spells. I believe it is because he cannot communicate how he feels, whether he is sleepy, tired, hungry or other reasons why he could be frustrated.
C. Understanding that he can’t always have what he wants. Nathan cannot accept “no” for an answer. He always ends up crying when I can’t give him what he wants.
D. Spontaneous greeting and farewell to friends.
E. Increased attention span and interactive play.