It takes a village to raise a child. A common proverb, but, if there’s anything I’ve learned in the past 15 months, it’s that not only does it take a village, it takes a very special village. We’ve been so fortunate that our village has not just included our family and friends (including my virtual friends whom I only know through facebook groups or online forums), but also a ton of professionals: osteopath, naturopath, homeopath, chiropractor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, behavioural consultant, instructor therapist, speech-language pathologist, holistic nutritionist, dietitian, family physician, pediatrician, and pediatric gastroenterologist – whew! Many of these professionals we still see on a somewhat regular basis. Each of them has helped us with some piece that has led to improving and supporting our parenting for Maddy.
Most recently, we’ve been participating in the ‘Getting Ready to Learn’ program at Blue Balloon – we’re just over half way through the sessions of the first phase. It targets a variety of social and play skills that Maddy is delayed in – playing with toys purposefully, playing independently (that is, not on someone’s lap) responding to her name, following a point, imitation, etc.
The program has been an amazing experience so far. We have already seen some improvement in Maddy’s eye contact, social referencing, joint attention, pointing, responding to her name, imitating, and playing. As we understand, she still has a way to go before she’s mastered most of them, but it’s such a positive experience to see how much she’s already improved. Last night Eric and I felt as though Maddy was interacting with us in a way we have never experienced before. It was so incredible. Even her daycare has given us positive feedback – for the first time today, she was pulling toys out of a basket and giving them to the workers! At the advice of our behavioural therapist, we’re trying not to make any long-term judgments based on this progress, but it is so encouraging.
Now, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, tonight she cried from the moment she got home from daycare until she fell asleep, skipping dinner along the way (let’s face it, she does have SPD). But, we feel purposeful – we’re tracking these difficult moments and the behavioural consultant will help us create strategies after reviewing our data. Our days range from 3-4 tantrums the entire day, to 25 tantrums in the time before and after daycare (about 5 hours). Some of those tantrums still last 30 mins or longer. However, surviving the tantrums is not quite as stressful when we’re documenting them, because we know that help is on its way.
We’re now in the process of setting up our appointments for the second phase of the Getting Ready to Learn program, and submitting our intake forms for an ASD screening program.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think it also takes a village to keep parents focused and sane. Without our village, not only would Maddy not have made the gains she’s made over the past 15 months, but our days would be a lot more gloomy and we wouldn’t feel the happiness and hope we feel each day. It sure does take a village, and we’re so thankful you’re part of ours!