On Friday, March 11th, 2016 – Lila went outside to explore and play – for the first time in a YEAR. She had only recently started going into the sunroom, and in the past that had even been too much for her – just too much anxiety to even go through the doorway.
A week prior, I had attempted to open the screen door while we sat in the sunroom and she played in the trampoline. Her anxiety instantly shot through the roof, I could feel it. It feels like a wave of panic that hits you like a freight train, from zero to 300 in .2 seconds flat.
However on this day – Bill started it with a game…. He would say “open!” (then open the sliding glass door). She would motion for him to close it, and as he would he said “close!”. They did this a few different times, and eventually she started going over to try and peek out the doorway to the outside.
A few times of that (open and close, open and close, open and close) and then…. just like that – she was off!
It was incredible – for months and months – she has been looking out windows, I’ve been opening the windows inside so she could feel the breeze on her face, she’s been watching shows and playing apps about “outside”, and watching social stories about going outside as well. It was like she had done all of her research, deemed it “acceptable” – then finally actually headed outside at full force.
She doesn’t prefer us to be outside with her at this point – I think we (not unlike her shoes) represent the possibility of unpredictability, and that causes her anxiety levels to go up. So, she leads us over to open the door for her, and then back to an office chair in the sunroom, – she holds our hand as we sit down, and then she heads out to explore the back yard.
I’ve been lucky enough a few times to be invited outside with her (I know this because she smiles at me, grabs my hand, and heads out the door with me right behind). She loves the purple flower weeds the most, with sticks coming in a close second. I can’t even begin to explain the happiness, pride, joy, and excitement for the future that this seemingly small occurrence has brought to us.