We had our first house guest here in Rhode Island this past week. My dad came to visit on Sunday and stayed until Friday. Hannah was so happy to see her Grandpa and it was nice to see a familiar face. We did lots of sight seeing and got to see a lot of neat things. Hannah loved the Mystic Aquarium which she consistently refers to as the "accordion" :) It's a smallish aquarium and we went mid week before the local schools were out for the summer so it was a much nicer experience for Hannah than it potentially could have been if it was crowded. She did quite a bit of running around and dragging us from exhibit to exhibit. We also finally checked out some of the local beaches. We've been to the beach here by our house loads, but we decided to travel to the big beaches along the coast instead of just the bay. Hannah had a blast running up and down the beach and loved the excitement of fighting to stay upright as the waves crashed against our legs. She wore herself out so badly that day that she fell asleep in her car seat on the way home with goldfish crackers in her mouth and still chewing!
Lately Hannah has been doing a fantastic job socially. She's been engaging with other kids her own age, initiating play, and responding appropriately when approached by another child. It's just been so fantastic to watch her blossom these past few weeks. She has been doing such a fantastic job in fact that I had begun to consider the possibility that she was just a late bloomer socially. Maybe the doctors had gotten it wrong when they diagnosed her with asperger's. Maybe all those people who insisted time and time again that she was just quirky and shy were right. All this fell just on the heels of our first meeting with the local school system where they pretty much told us that they didn't feel Hannah would qualify for any services because she tested too well on their academic tests and she was considered too high functioning. BUT THEN yesterday happened and I was painfully reminded exactly why the doctors have it right. Yesterday we went to our city park beach. The weather was beautiful and Hannah was pumped to be out in the sand and water. As luck would have it, there happened to be 3 other 3 year old girls near us on the beach who wanted to play with Hannah. One little girl repeatedly tried to engage Hannah with no success. The poor little girl was so confused and I think possibly a little hurt. Several times I tried to prompt/coax Hannah into playing with the girl or at least playing beside her, but Hannah could pretty much care less about the other girl. Occasionally I'd prompt Hannah to share something she was doing with the little girl and Hannah would obediently do so, but it was much more like talking at the girl with no concern over whether or not she was listening or even looking at what Hannah was showing her. There were several times when the little girl was talking to Hannah and Hannah would just start telling the other girl about something completely unrelated to what the girl had been trying to talk to her about. The thing was though that Hannah was blissfully happy. She wasn't missing this girl's companionship at all. She was perfectly happy doing her own thing. Still my heart broke. She had been doing so well socially that this felt like a huge kick in the teeth. I've been thinking about it a lot today and I've been trying to figure out why it made me so sad since Hannah was obviously enjoying her time at the beach. Was I sad for Hannah because she was missing out on a potential friendship (or at the very least playmate for the afternoon) or was I sad for myself that Hannah marches the beat of a different drum and I'm constantly having to explain that to other parents when they see their children being ignored, brushed aside, or viewed as fearful dangers by Hannah? Maybe I'm sad for a combination of both reasons. Who knows.
Hannah has been doing some amazing (to me anyway) things lately that I had no idea that she was even close to doing. Academically she had seemed to have hit a plateau and hadn't had much interest in reading or writing and I hadn't pushed it. Then, just this last week she sounded out the word "ballet" and spontaneously wrote the numbers 1-4. I know she actually sounded out ballet and didn't just recognize it from another book because she pronounced the "t" at the end. As for the numbers, it's been probably 6 months or more since we've even attempted to write any numbers and then all of a sudden she wrote perfectly recognizable attempts of all four! Then tonight she did something that was a bit odd, but slightly amazing as well. She had some fruit on her plate and one piece was significantly larger than the other. She pointed at the smaller of the two and said "muhroona" small and then pointed to the bigger piece and stated "burawnka" big. It was like she was presenting a vocabulary lesson for a foreign language to Kyle and I only this language was one of her own creation. She's always making up nonsense words, but she's never before paired them with any meaning, at least not that she's ever told us.
PS. By looking at that last picture can you totally tell that autism lives at our house?!? :)