The amount of growth I've seen in Olive this year can only be measured in tears of joy.
As a special needs parent even, the smallest steps in the right direction are praised. This past school year Olive has made tremendous progress. Prior to starting kindergarten this year, Olive had never been to school or day care. We had never had a baby sitter, for obvious reasons. How does one explain their child's needs and very presice routine to someone who doesn't live it daily? And she just had never had to follow any kind of routine, besides her own. I was both excited and nervous for her to start school. As her buffer from all things strange and sticky, I feared most her having a meltdowns and becoming overwhelmed. Besides family no one could understand 90% of what she was saying, and she would become so frustrated with those who couldn't understand.
We decided the she was going to be in a mainstream classroom, but would receive services while at school. It was all just so new. I had so many what if's. What is she just tries to get up and leave, and doesn't understand why she can't just go home? What in the world is my child going to eat? At this time she only really enjoyed peanut butter and chicken nuggets. What if she has tummy troubles? These would leave her crying, and on the floor in pain from severe constipation. But most of all, WHAT IF SHE WANDERS OFF? I assumed she'd quietly decide she didn't want to be there, and just walk off. I fearfully awaited calls from school for the first few months.
To my surprise she adjusted well. This doesn't mean she didn't struggle transitioning from class to class, or had incidents that left her visibly upset. And there were times I would receive a calls saying she was having a hard time and wasn't being herself. And I would need to come get her so she could decompress. These things were to be expected. But, the amount of growth she's displayed has left me so hopeful for the future. I stopped having too many expectations, and started cherishing what was right in front of me a long time ago.
I had no idea that would leave me to under estimate my child's ability at times.
I get so used to doing for her, that sometimes robbing her of the chance to do for herself. Kindergarten has been so good to Olive. She's talking, trying new things, independent, learning, writing, spelling, and asking questions. I am faced with a little bit of a dilemma. Olive will be repeating Kindergarten. This is something we are totally okay with, she is the youngest in her class. She turned 5 the first of week of school, and she has struggled with the academic aspect. The problem is, she knows that after kindergarten comes 1st grade. And she is saying how excited she is to be a first grader. I know it's not a big deal, but I don't see her understanding why her friends are going to 1st grade but she isn't. And obviously I'm not going to lie to her. I've recently been trying to introduce it little by little. I've told her, her teacher was so great this year that she'll be her teacher next year. And that they'll be all new friends and class mates to play with. I really don't know what to say past that.
Over the summer she'll be in Summer school and we signed the girls up for dance during the break. Hoping she won't become too over whelmed. But truthfully I think this will be good for her. When Olive takes too long of breaks from school, she gets thrown off. Regression sets in, and it takes weeks sometimes more to get her back to the level she was at prior. So keeping up the routine of school should help this year when she returns. I'm super excited her sister will also be starting preschool, and she couldn't be more excited. I can't believe how much my children have grown. I've spent the past 5 years being a stay at home mom, I'm so grateful for being able to spend every day with my children. I didn't miss a step, a word, a smile.
I am no way saying that it has been easy, because it hasn't. Olive was diagnosed with Autism while I was pregnant with her sister. After her sister was born I struggled with postpartum depression. I felt like I was struggling to keep my head above water. I cried every single day, I felt alone even though that was the furthest thing from the truth. I struggled with my self worth because I had spent my whole adult life working and taking care of myself. I've always based my value on the ability to care for myself. When I stopped working I felt like I lost my identity. I felt like I didn't have to a right to feel how I felt. Like, how dare I complain about being able to stay at home with my children without it financially hindering us. How dare I feel this way when any other mom would KILL to be able to stay home with their children. My social anxiety became worse because I no longer was forced intact with others on a daily basis, which a work environment provided for me. I would spend 10 days at time without leaving the house, not even to go to the grocery store. I had no desire to be out in the world. I refused to talk on the phone. Not even to make a doctor's appointment. I was scared to drive because I would have paranoid thoughts the whole time. And I often wondered if I'd ever find myself again. Thankfully, I know longer think or feel that way. I'm so lucky in every way. When you have darkness looming over your head you can't see anything clearly, but you have to push through. Even when you don't think you're able.