Little surprises spill out of Olive every now and again. Sometimes it comes in the form of a newly acquired skill, like learning to to open the car door or learning how to get herself dressed. At times she'll randomly begin to elaborate on something from weeks ago, or let us know how she feels about things like getting married when she's older. And how when she turns 16 she's going to be an ice-cream girl and sell ice-cream. To put things in perspective, she doesn't normally respond to questions like, "How was school today?" or "What did you do at your grand parent's over the weekend." It's not because she's hearing impaired, or has selective hearing, or that she's incapable of understanding the context of what you're saying. Generally a person on the spectrum may process information differently, and may have a delayed response to a question, or have trouble processing the sensory stimuli in their environment.
Something we learned early on with Olive was her great memory. I remember at two years old when she had memorized a series of flash cards in order. These consisted of about thirty flash cards with various Disney characters, that would replay in a same order on her iPad. She always knew what was next and seemed to find so much comfort in that. Olive can watch something and very easily remember what was said, and then later or for month randomly start repeating a favorite youtube video or movie. She's been scripting since she could talk, and even prior was attempting to copy things like tones and sounds. I think her scripting is one her most impressive traits. When Toy Story was her favorite movie every day it was, "Alright everyday this a stick up. Don't anybody move!" and so on. And wouldn't want to be interrupted and wouldn't respond to questions or her name when scripting. Now at the age of five, she'll just tell me to stop being so loud because she's talking. These days her favorite things to memorize is youtube videos. These mainly consist of LOL Surprise reveals, Annia and Elsia videos (Some of you will know what I mean!), anything Halloween related, and of course Kids Bop dance videos. She learns the dances at such a fast rate, it's impressive.
Today to my surprise Olive came to me calmly and informed me that she had a loose tooth. I assumed she was just saying it, just to say it. Since the beginning of the school year she's been fascinated with loosing her teeth. After seeing a fellow classmate lose her tooth, everyday she insisted she had a loose tooth. So this was not an uncommon occurrence. Well to our surprise Olive did in fact have a loose tooth, and two others growing behind it! Truthfully we don't know how she'll react during this process. She can easily go from calm to state of panic in a flash. Any trace amount of blood or unseen event can put her over the edge. But for now, I'll enjoy my child's excitement.
Just recently she has a lot of interest in learning how to swim after seeing her cousins learn. This means so much to us because of the obvious danger water poses on a child not knowing how to swim. Especially one who has become so fond of water. And the fact that it was just this past year Olive over came years of being terrified of the pool. She was terrified of the waterfall at the family pool, would take an hour to get the courage to physically get in the water, and another hour just trying to her out without having a meltdown. Getting out of water is a while new situation. We recently discovered a lot of her trauma for getting out of water came from sensory issues. All Olive's life she has had the most beautiful long hair. Well it was her har that was causing her to have an overload and begin to cry or get visibly upset. She hated the feeling of her wet hair falling agonist her back after getting out of water. This is something we didn't learn until she became verbal and actually told us it was her hair. We had gone years of avoiding the pool, having to physically step into the bath with her to wash her hair, because she refused to get her hair wet. At this point she's been getting hair cuts when her hair gets too long. She's not comfortably completely submerging herself in the water. And his learning to kick and paddle. She wants so badly to learn to swim. The scary thing is she has it in her head that she has learned how to swim. We are very confident that she will learn soon.
Sometimes when you've been having a hard time you need to stop and reflect on how far you, your child, and your family has come. Reflect on the good and celebrate the little things. Stop letting yourself silently compare your child to other children. You will never find your child within another child. Your child is special, and one of a kind. And sometimes that gets lost in the all the chaos. These are the times more than ever you need to take the time to appreciate all that you do have, and the child that's in front of you. There is not another child hiding under your loved ones Autism. Love and cherish the child you have, and never stop celebrating the little victories along the way, because there will be many of them. You child will never cease to amaze you.