Monday, July 10, 2017

Baby steps are still steps

Clara has been at a children's center for Autism, receiving six hours of ABA therapy a day, for nearly two and a half years. And while we have seen amazing progress in her overall abilities and development, and work continually at home to help reinforce what she is working on during the week, I'd be lying if I said I never assumed there were certain skills she would never master.

I am biased, obviously, but is she not the cutest kid ever?

Like identifying letters.

Identifying shapes.

Identifying colors.

You get the idea. These are skills Clara's three year old sister has mastered, and maybe it's a means of heart protection, but sometimes my expectations are lowered for my special needs child.

Because when you are parenting a child who has never spoken a word, doesn't typically respond to their name or other basic questions/directives, it is really easy to assume they don't get it. Aren't getting it. Or won't ever get it.

It's easy to assume stuff isn't sticking when the output looks so different than that of a typical child.

But time and time again I am reminded that little-by-little progress adds up.

Baby steps, while small, are still steps in the right direction.

Baby steps are still steps. 

Some of our baby steps along the way. Lots of OT sessions, typically three a week. 

Remember her itty bitty purple hand braces? We had to teach her how to separate her thumbs from pointers (it's as if they were glued together) and these, over time, did the trick. 

I have only five years of special needs parenting under my belt, and a whole bunch more to learn, but if there is one overarching piece of encouragement I can give to a mama who is overwhelmed by their child's lack of abilities or milestone gap that seems to continually widen, it's this. . .

Keep showing up.

Keep pushing your child toward their next target.

Keep working their treatment plan day after day after long day.

Keep assuming that one day, someday, that thing they struggle so hard with will click. That the lightbulb will go off.

Because eventually, maybe two and a half years later, much longer than expected and long after deeming a goal no longer attainable, your kid will knock your socks off.

They will show up, as they do every day, and blow your mind with a new skill.

Like Clara did this past Friday during my parent training.

(One of the videos won't upload due to length, but in it she correctly points to the letters S, R, D, A, L, and O. You can check it out on Facebook.)

I've watched these clips approximately 200 times. It never gets old.

One thing I love about the special needs journey is it creates this sense of complete awe and appreciation for even the tiniest of skills. Every little milestone possible is celebrated. Learning how to grasp a crayon. Learning how to grasp two objects, one in each hand, at the same time. Learning how to use one's eyes to scan for a certain object. Learning how to take a bite of a piece of food, such as a banana or sandwich. Learning how to walk around objects on the floor instead of tumbling over them. Learning how to point. These are all things I don't know I would appreciate as much if they didn't come so hard for my oldest girl.

So, needless to say, the past few days have been filled with gratitude, delight, and celebration.

And after the celebration dies down and the newness of this accomplishment fades a bit?

We will keep showing up with eager expectation, assuming that the next goal, whatever it may be, is well within this precious girl's reach.

(To learn more about our daughter's diagnosis and journey, click here.)


  1. I forgot how serious baby Clara's expressions were!! Her smile is beautiful, of course, but I kind of like the "I'm not so sure about this" look as well :)

    ANYWAY, as I've already said, this is such an exciting development and hopefully a much needed and well-timed reminder from God that sometimes progress is slow, but we should never give up!

  2. Sweet, smart girl!! I love these throwback pictures as much as I loved hearing about/seeing those videos! And I also love that Clara isn't even showing off on purpose - she is just doing her thing, like "what's the big deal? I've known this all along!"

  3. Reading your words this morning gave me a solid, foundational reminder ... wait seasons may be short or they may be long but they are never without His answer and He is always present in them with us. Thank you for sharing!


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