Six Years Old

Dear Tad,

I can’t even begin to describe what a life-changing year this has been for you.

You were formally diagnosed with autism a little over a year ago, and you have been in ABA therapy and speech therapy consistently ever since.  You entered the CLC program at school last fall, and have now finished kindergarten.  You began to take swimming lessons.  We tried you out on the gluten-free diet.  It feels as if every single thing that you do has been noted, written down, analyzed and built upon.

You continue to astound me at every single turn.  You have blossomed with therapy, and are learning to master skills that I once despaired of you ever having.  You were a star in your kindergarten class – so much so that you began to spend some time in the peer model class next door.  You threw yourself – literally and figuratively – into the pool and showed us that you might truly be part fish.  The gluten-free diet was a bust, but at least we can now say that we gave it a try.

And we bought an iPad.  I really didn’t think that it would be the tool that others had claimed, but I was willing to give it a try with some recommended apps.  And I was completely blown away when you began to read.

Last night at bedtime, you read Little Critter: Going to the Sea Park with me, and while you needed help with unfamiliar words, and prompting on some others, you were really reading.  And this is a book you haven’t memorized because you’ve heard it hundreds of times, or have it read to you on the iPad.  My heart just overflowed as I watched you carefully read each word and stick with it, even when you weren’t sure what the next word was.  I was so proud of you, and I told you that, which just made you shine with happiness.

I really am hoping that this next year will see a major change in your social skills.  I would dearly love to see you make friends and want to play with them, be kinder to your sister and brother, and learn to process your anger and frustration without hitting or lashing out.  I know this is a tall order.  But I have seen you achieve so much that I refuse to limit my belief in what you will be able to accomplish with time and effort.

In this last year, we have made great strides in just understanding you, Tad.  Autism is like looking through a kaleidoscope – the patterns and colors are constantly shifting and changing, but sometimes you can catch a clear picture.  And when you do, those pictures are always amazing.  The problem is, we are trying to catch a clear picture of you, and you’re trying to catch a clear picture of the world, and our pictures and interpretations sometimes don’t line up all the time.  But we’re beginning to share some pictures every now and then from the different ends of the kaleidoscope, and it makes all the work and effort worthwhile.

I love you more than you can imagine, Tad.  Happy 6th birthday, my budding ichthyologist, my masked crime fighter, my spelling champ, my first-born son.


2 Responses to “Six Years Old”

  1. Nana
    August 12th, 2011 07:20

    Happy Birthday, Tad! We are on your team, buddy, and love you thiiiiis much.

  2. Ressis
    August 12th, 2011 08:02

    Happy Birthday, Tad! We love you and miss you so much!