Ebbs and Flows

They say that in autistic individuals, learning seems to ebb and flow; there will be weeks where a great deal of progress is made and weeks where there is barely any progress and sometimes regression.

November and December were not Lawrence’s best months. He reverted back to only eating two foods. He stopped pointing to pictures in books and repeating the names you gave him. We would go through 3-4week stretches without a single word added to his vocabulary.

The week after Christmas break was the worst yet. All the progress Lawrence had made in learning to accept not having complete control over his environment was gone. Turning down the television a notch or two to listen to a phone call was cause for a 25-minute meltdown. We would end a two-hour session both completely exhausted and stressed out.

Then Larry and his mom and I went back to the hospital clinic where he spent this summer. He was uncompliant at the food trials, but walking out of the building seemed to flip a switch. He reached into the bag in the car and ate several servings of the food he had ignored at therapy. He pointed to a picture and even though he didn’t repeat the word, this was the first time he’s asked in months.

And then this week came. Lawrence hasn’t been this on the ball since the summer. He picked up the phrase “Go Away” after three prompts and is now using it with me, his mother, and his brothers appropriately. He named all his colors after I had given up hope that he remembered that skill. Today he named eight body parts as he presented them to be tickled. He’s eaten nine different foods this week, including three that he alternated through during dinner. And he’s more interactive than ever. We’ve found all sorts of new ways to monkey around together, including his sitting on my lap while we slide down the stairs, my hanging him by his knees and swinging him like a pendulum, and dancing around the room with him sitting on my shoulders. And since he’s gotten down the words to ask for all of these, he is excited to find that he can specifically ask for the movement he wants, rather than have me guess.

We’re not totally out of the woods yet. Today he screamed for 25-minutes straight because I tried to sit him down for table time. Yesterday he did some head-banging which we hadn’t seen from him in a while. He’s been fighting with Josh any time the two of them are left out of arm’s reach for an instant. So we still have a long ways to go.

But he did so well this week, and February could be our best month yet.

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