Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Difference in a Year

A year ago over the Fourth of July Weekend, Mandy and the two little ones and I went to a big picnic at a camp out in the boondocks about 6 miles or so from here. The son-in-law of the owner of the camp is my ex-sister-in-law's brother and since my niece, her husband and children had come over from their home in the Mercer area to go to this picnic, she invited the kids and I to go along.

Now, the connections with my niece's uncle and my kids and I go back even further because when I was growing up, my ex-sil's grandparents -and of course, her mother, aunts and uncles, lived in the house next door to me so I spent a lot of time over there as a kid. Then, when "Grammy and Pap" (as my kids always called the parents of the kids there) decided to downsize and purchased a mobile home, my ex-sil's parents bought the homestead and raised their seven children there. There were 13 children in my ex-sil's mother's family -11 girls and 2 boys -who my kids have always referred to as aunt or uncle -easier to keep track of who one is talking about at times when there are that many people involved to begin with -and then, when you add in 66 grandchildren and now, I wouldn't even begin to fathom a guess as to how many great and great-great and probably even some great-great-great grandkids there are from that initial family. Anyway, suffice it to say even without my ex-sil being part of that clan, I was always very close to them for almost all my life.

Last year, when we went out to the picnic there, my niece and her daughter were here at the house for a while and we took a couple of pictures of Maya and her first cousin, Lizzie.

This afternoon, my niece, Angie, her husband Davy and their daughters -Lizzie, age 4 1/2 and Gracie, a new addition who is seven months old now -stopped by for a little visit after having been out to Black Moshannon State Park for a family reunion on Angie's Dad's side of her family. And before they left today, we got some pictures of Maya and Lizzie, clowning around, showing off a hat Mandy had bought for Lizzie a little while back. Maya has one like it in Lilac and Lizzie's hat is a pretty aqua shade and both hats have "Sassy" embroidered on them. Really appropriate for either of the girls because they both are quite the little "Sassy" numbers.

But I thought it would be neat to post the pictures taken of the two cousins about a year ago along with the pictures I took of the two girls today. Just for the sake of comparison you know.

That's Lizzie on the left and Maya, of course, on the right. Maya is four days older than Lizzie.
And here's the girls again - Maya on the left, Lizzie in front of the door, waiting to go to the picnic last year.
Here's Lizzie and Maya sitting on the arm of the sofa, showing off their "Sassy" hats.

Here they are again -clowning around while I was trying to snap a picture.
And another shot of the two girls. I tried to get a picture of them standing, side-by-side and holding hands but that didn't work because Maya wouldn't (or couldn't) stand still. She was dancing around and around -should have clicked on the video but I didn't even think of that at the time. (Senile grammie syndrome strikes again, ya know.)

Although the girls are pretty close in size -Maya is maybe a tiny bit taller. Lizzie is not quite as slim as Maya but she's not chubby - just nicely filled out. But this year, the girls were a bit more matched in maturity levels than they were last year at this time. Another way that shows us just how much progress Maya has made over the past ten months since she started attending school over by Clearfield. She is still a little behind Lizzie in some areas -particularly listening and following instructions when told to "Clean up" her toys. I got on Maya about opening a little plastic box with various cards in it and spilling them all over the floor and then, just walking away from them, leaving the mess there for someone else to deal with. She did her normal routine of ignoring my requests, my instructions, to pick them up, telling me "No, no. I can't do that." And before I knew it, there was Lizzie, picking up the cards and putting them back in the box where they'd been! When Maya saw Lizzie doing that, she did come over and pick up one or two of the cards, but she'd never have done that otherwise! (Angie told us too before she left that Lizzie had come and told her that Maya is bad because she won't pick up her toys when she's told to do that! There's a good example of the "one-way" type of thinking Maya tends to have as compared to a non-autistic child of the same age.)

And, some good news about the other little person in the house too - Kurtis! He's been starting lately now to try to talk and has said a couple of words "on command" and repeated them somewhat appropriately too. On Friday afternoon, Mandy and Kurtis had stopped up at the restaurant here (Jim and Charmaine's) and when they were leaving, she was trying to get him to wave bye-bye and also, to say his newest thing -"See ya!" And he did it! In front of Charmaine, her sister, Jeanne, and Shirley, the waitress, he repeated those words and waved -or attempted anyway, to wave "bye bye" to them!

Today, while Angie and her family were here, my son Clayton, stopped in to visit a bit. When he went to leave, we started telling Kurtis to say "See ya" to Uncle Clate and once again, he repeated these two words -and quite clearly too! Needless to say, Uncle Clate was very surprised -and very pleased too on hearing him repeat that. Clate says it is the first time he's heard Kurtis say anything that he understood what the boy was trying to say, that's how clear it came through today!

So you see, it's a whole lot of baby steps, over and over and over again -like eight, almost nine months of speech therapy that now has his vocabulary up to saying "Circle" - "Yay, yay" and "See ya!" He's also getting better too at letting us know some of what his wants are -or aren't. However, mostly that comes down to pitching whatever it is he DOESN'T want on the floor. Ok, looks like a little more work is needed on that aspect, huh?

Just wait till his speech therapist, occupational therapist and behavior therapists show up this week to work with him. Boy, will they have a surprise and a darned good one too!

And now, after a full day with these two kids -they've both been out like little lights since shortly before 9 p.m. -I think I'm gonna join 'em and go to bed very shortly here too!

And, you can be sure seeing the changes from one year to the next with Maya and Lizzie, hearing Kurtis using his newest bit of vocabulary too, I'm gonna be saying more than a few "Thank yous" when I lay my head on my pillow tonight!


Beth from the Funny Farm said...

Wow. Your niece lives close to me then. If your ever at the Outlets let me know! :-)

terri said...

That's really wonderful that Maya has someone that can influence her in a positive way. Makes you realize the importance of her spending time with other kids at school. And what great strides for Kurtis!

Theresa said...

What a year! I remember reading the first day of school almost a year ago and the adventures of the bus- so goor that Maya is progressing - Those theripist really know what they are doing, my nephew has really progressed with his-although time consuming, it amazing how far he came in a year too.

Travis said...

I guess it all comes down to patience and working with the kids. They get it slower than other kids, but they get it eventually.

Happy day to you!

Mary said...


Maya is coming along. Give her time. It is a step-by-step process and some of the steps are baby steps, but she is going forward.

And how wonderful that Kurtis' speech therapy is moving him forward.

It looks like you are receiving some blessings, my friend. Unfortunately, Brandon is having a few problems, but we're hoping that this is temporary. They seem to go forward so well for a while and then something happens that puts their world into turmoil.

Brandon also has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Behavior) which sometimes goes along with the autism. This tends to be causing some problems at present. Just another step-by-step process.

I think I will follow your lead and head to bed shortly. It's been a long day.

So glad to hear that both of the kids are moving forward. You've made my day.


Supercool Hotmama said...

So fun to see the progress! That was one of my favorite things about teaching special ed - celebrating those small achievements!

(I taught students with autism for 3 years! Ah, the stories we could swap ;D)