The End of an Era

LilaJanet

We have 3 therapy sessions left with Janet (including today). It’s unbelievable how far we’ve all come in the past 20 months.

Yesterday after work, Lila brought me cards (or used the iPad) to tell me when she was hungry, when she was thirsty – and what exactly she wanted. We followed our visual schedule throughout the evening, and she showed me which episode of what show she wanted to watch during TV time. She brought me the “Bubbles” card when she wanted to play with bubbles.

During iPad time, she chose what she wanted to play. I pulled her up into my lap to play AlphaTots, and at one point she got down to go get a snack off of the coffee table. When she was done, she ran back over to me in the recliner, looked me in the eyes, and lifted her arms up – she wanted me to pick her up and put her back in my lap. I about cried.

We listened to the alphabet song at the end of the game a few times, and it’s one of her very favorite parts. At one point during the song, I touched my head to hers and she leaned into me while she hummed along. I just closed my eyes and marveled at what was going on. For parents of typical children, I know this sort of thing is taken for granted, just a typical evening. But Lila isn’t typical – and neither are we.

When we started this journey, Lila was 15 months old. She would barely acknowledge Bill and me at all, and there were times I thought we had lost her. Our first month with SoonerStart was spent literally just following Lila around, doing exactly what she was doing (touching the flower design on the front door, opening cabinet doors, touching the metal circles on the side of the couch). Barely any eye contact at that point, we had to immerse ourselves into her little world – and we did, whole-heartedly.

We are now doing things I never even dreamed of back then – she follows us around wanting to play and interact. She can say “yeah, yay, and go”, and can bring us picture cards for a multitude of items/actions. I can’t even express my gratitude for SoonerStart – and Janet in particular. She has been in the trenches with us every single day since that first session. She has not only been Lila’s primary therapist and SLP, she’s been our therapist – helping all 3 of us successfully navigate this new life of ours with autism.

Parenting Lila since October 2013 has in essence been a 3-person job – Janet has been integral in each and every one of our major decisions. The thought of losing her as Lila’s primary therapist…. (not to mention the Friday afternoon visits with one of my favorite people) is a tad overwhelming. How do you “thank” someone for giving you your child back? For helping you relate to her in ways you never thought possible, and for showing you the beauty in what once terrified us…autism. She is family for life – I can’t believe how far we have come – and Lila just continues to make progress. I can’t wait to see how far you can go, Little Lady!

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