My Dear, Sweet Boy,
This week, you turned four. I know all parents say “the time has flown by” and “you’re getting so big,” etc. And all of that is true. But more than that, I’m just so amazed by how drastically you’ve changed and grown over this time and also how much we’ve changed and grown together. Especially in the past year.
At the beginning of age three, you were struggling in daycare to the point where they decided that they could not manage to handle you. They thought you were autistic.
I cried in the director’s office as she told me warning sign after warning sign that they saw in you and threw information at me.
Shortly after, we were asked to find care for you elsewhere. We weren’t sure what to think. We saw some of what they did, but not all of it. And not to the extent they did. Was it just a bad fit? Or were we in denial as your parents, unable to be objective?
I trusted my instincts, though apprehensively, and decided not to have you tested through WEAP. Instead, we chose to have a preliminary assessment by your physician. She completely disagreed with the director and was thankful we did not take you to WEAP. While a good resource for those who actually are autistic, she advised that their testing strategies, and the fact that autism is a spectrum, confirm autism in most everyone who walks through their doors. I breathed a sigh of relief that we trusted ourselves, and not the daycare.
We decided to try a Montessori school, hoping a completely different environment would be a better fit.
After two months, I again found myself crying in a director’s office as she suggested that Montessori may not be right for you.
She thought you may need more “one on one” help. At your doctor’s suggestion, we had a behavioral assessment through the Child Development Center. Again, they found nothing “wrong.” Perhaps ADHD will show up in your future, but you may also just be a little “young” for structured group care.
Fortunately, the Montessori school was willing to find a way to work with us to see if we could make things work. Especially after the behavioral assessment confirmed what I already felt I knew; you’re an independent, strong-willed, smart little boy who wasn’t yet interested in complying for compliance sake. You just weren’t ready, but we had to push you because we had no other choice; we both had to work and we had to take you somewhere (the working parent’s dilemma).
You’ve been attending one day a week. On that day, a retired teacher volunteers for extra assistance with you. Each week, you’ve improved. No more running out of the classroom, sneaking snacks, darting out of the building or gate, or bold defiance. The outbursts of frustration have become farther and fewer.
This week is your last week of school until Fall, and I am told that you should be fine to come back full weeks next year, without additional assistance in the room. One year ago, we were in a very different place!
This year, you’ve changed and grown so much. It’s almost like you’re a different little boy in many ways. There is a person coming out that I knew was in there, but who was not the one that everyone else was seeing.
You’ve become so articulate. You can explain your wants and needs so well now. If we aren’t sure, you now understand that you need to find a different way to explain, and you do.
You get frustrated and angry much less. You are much better at staying calm or telling us what you need help with before letting your temper take over. The impulsive behavior has dropped off significantly as you’ve matured.
I no longer worry so much about you running off into the street or out of the house or away from your teachers. You understand more now the importance of those rules for your safety.
Your sense of humor has really developed! You make jokes and tease Daddy. Silly and absurd things you find absolutely hilarious.
You rarely argue over cleaning up or doing other things that you need to do but may not want to do.
We can let you play in the bath mostly unsupervised, with us just being within earshot and checking in every now and then. You’re content to just play in the water, rather than look for trouble.
You’ve gotten really good at brushing your teeth! We still do a little extra to make sure it’s good, but you’re pretty thorough!
You’ve developed a fear of things that may threaten your safety. While it’s not great to be overly concerned, it gives me comfort in knowing that you’ve finally made the connection to external influences that can be dangerous and the idea that you are not invincible.
You recognize words so well and copy drawings amazingly. You ask so many questions, wanting to learn everything about the world around you. Your mental, physical, and emotional skills have increased exponentially this year.
I once worried about you, because people in a position I thought were more able to accurately critique you objectively made me believe I should. But consistently since then, you’ve continued to show me that you are, and will be, just fine.
You’ve confirmed that I can trust myself in what I see and believe in you. And you’ve given me glimpses in how you’ve changed and grown, of who I knew you were and what that could mean for you someday.
I don’t doubt myself anymore. Watching you this year has helped me to trust my instincts about you, and to trust your process in becoming who you’re supposed to be.
You were born amazing. You still are amazing. And you will always be amazing.