Three years ago, on November 20, 2006, a local psychologist told me that Ava has autism. I can honestly say that I wasn’t completely surprised, I’ve always been an information junkie and kind of expected it but the words were still a bit of a shock to my system. However, I didn’t have much time to dwell on things, as November 21, 2006 was Ava’s third birthday.
I started Mutterings of a Mindless Mommy, in part, as an outlet for my emotions. I never thought of autism as a death sentence and I’m not generally a doom and gloom person by nature, but navigating the healthcare system, the educational system, etc in order to get services for my daughter was stressful and so I needed an outlet.
Every year at this time I like to look back at the growth that Ava has made. Just as I did last year, I want to start off with excerpts from my previous two reflection posts.
It has been a year of tremendous growth, lots of backsliding, and a whole heckuva lot of fun. All-out meltdown at Sea World complete with judgmental parents telling me my child was spoiled. Numerous parents commenting on public freak-outs and diapers on a “child her age.” Lots of dirty looks, rude comments, and nice enlightening conversations on my part (depending on my mood hehe). What I do know is over the last year not only has *my* understanding and impression of autism and all spectrum disorders changed but so has that of all of my friends and family. My daughter is a happy, affectionate, and loving little girl and I am so thankful to have her in my life.
The past year has been filled with more ups than downs. She figured out how to go potty and aside from a few accidents a week, spends her days out of diapers or pull-ups. She’s still in pull-ups at night but hey, this is a huge convenience to have her in panties all day. She’s come a long way with her language and actually tested out of her IEP at school. She is still about a year delayed in vocabulary/receptive language but it isn’t quite enough to qualify for speech therapy.
Although the growth between her fourth and fifth birthdays was amazing, my baby girl will be six on Saturday and this past year has been an amazing year for her. She is in kindergarten now and is starting to act like typical kindergarten girls. She has this sassy little attitude that I know she picked up at school. She talks about how the girls chase the boys and the boys chase the girls. She is also reading.
Yes, that is right. Ava is READING. She is up to 30 sight words now. The funny thing is, she had a really difficult time memorizing sight words when they first started to learn them. She couldn’t memorize the words but she could certainly sound them out. Then something clicked and she is memorizing sight words like crazy. She’s not just learning sight words though; she sounds out any and every word she sees. We were in line at Chipotle and all of the sudden she exclaims “Chicken Burrito!” Yes, that’s right, that big sign says Chicken Burrito on it.
As was the case last year, she still has her quirks. Yes she still smells everything. Yes she still has problems with emotional self-regulation. Yes she still has an odd language processing delay. Yes she loves to line up things including cars and the miniature pumpkins on Auntie’s driveway on Halloween night.
But yes she still greets everyone with a warm smile. Yes she still does a fantastic job in dance – we’ve gone beyond ballet and tap to include jazz, hip-hop, tumbling, and technique classes this year. This may sound like a lot for an almost six year old but Ava absolutely thrives in the dance environment and I truly believe that dance is responsible, at least in part, for the amazing growth she’s made over the past year.
Happy birthday baby girl and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings us.