For the longest time when children would talk to the Roc he would just grin and repeat what they had said. He was obviously happy they were talking with him and he wanted to interact, but he either couldn’t process what they were saying/asking, or he couldn’t come up with a reply/answer fast enough so he stalled for time by repeating them. It never worked and usually these children would find someone else to play with before the Roc came up with some original speech. It was heartbreaking to watch, but at the same time I have been so happy that he was finally craving that interaction because for a long time before that started he shunned being around children all together. His gain of social skills has been slow, but steady, and now something new and exciting is happening with the Roc!
Last weekend he really wanted to jump in his bouncy house, but told me “It’s more fun with kids” so we invited the neighbor boys over to jump with him. Usually when Luke (4.5) and Daniel (2.5) come over to jump all three of them get really silly, wild, and rough. This time it was different. I reminded the Roc to use his words instead of screaming if things got too rough. As soon as the rough play started I heard the Roc say “Hey! I’m going to count to 5! 1…2….3…5! You just lost your privileges! No rough housing in the bouncy house! You go to time out. You just have to bounce on the grass now!”
I was floored and called into the house for GC to get me a pen and my notebook – I just had to write all that down! So many sentences, all original, standing up for himself, and the bossiness! Inwardly I was cheering for him! Go Roc!
Luke seemed surprised by all that the Roc said, his face lit up, and the two of them giggled and giggled about going to time-out and jumping on the grass, and then they started TALKING!!! Back and forth exchanges. Asking and answering questions. All original stuff from the Roc. Conversation. The Roc was conversing with a friend! I was completely stunned and couldn’t stop grinning.
Then the Roc said “Let’s do our running stuff!”
and they started a game of running from the side of the house and throwing themselves up the slide into the bouncy house.
Then they sat and talked…(!!!)
I heard the Roc say things like “Are you listening to me?” when Luke would look away and “Wait! I have to tell you something!” when Luke would get up and move away from him. I couldn’t always hear what they were saying and I know that the Roc didn’t always understand Luke because he once asked him “Do you like the treats at school?” after Luke had just made a statement about something completely unrelated to school. I was and still am totally floored that they were conversing! It was very recently that the Roc began having more appropriate back and forth exchanges with GC and I, and I figured it would still be awhile before this started happening with children. I guess I was wrong.
I got to witness these new conversational skills a few days later when my BIL and SIL stopped at our house to spend the night on Thursday before driving back down to South Carolina. The Roc was sooooo excited for his cousins to come and I was a happy for him and a little worried. He just adores his cousin Annabella and they used to play this little running game when we would visit them. She has since outgrown that game but the Roc remembers doing this with her and so he always wants her to run with him, but she isn’t as interested anymore. The last time we were down South he got really upset when she wouldn’t run with him and it was hard for me to explain to him that she didn’t want to do that anymore and no one could make her run, no matter how much he wanted her too!
I didn’t need to worry. When I got home from his Kindergarten open house (I’ll post about that soon) that night everyone was already there and the Roc was just full of excitement to have his cousins in the house. Everyone was just finishing up dinner when I came home and sat down to eat. The Roc asked if he could go play and I suggested he go ask Bella if she wanted to see his room. He ran off towards the living room and I heard his little voice “Do you want to come upstairs and see my room?” and her sweet little answer “Sure.” I looked at my sister in-law and we smiled as the kids went up the stairs chattering to each other. We could hear them talking and bumping around above us and it was then, while I was eating, when I realized that this was the very first time that the Roc was upstairs playing with another child and I didn’t have to be there. I didn’t need to intervene. I didn’t need to watch. Break up fights because he grabbed something away from someone. Stop him from screeching because he wanted to play chase and the other child did not. I didn’t need to be there…
That was totally brand new for me. I really, really, really liked that feeling.
We let the Roc stay up late that night so he could play with his cousins and he also got to see them for about an hour before he left for school the next morning. I tried to get a few pictures of them playing but all I got was the back of their heads,
and this picture of the Roc with the little girl he adores, Annabella with her little brother (the Roc hugged her before he left for school and I wish I could have gotten a picture of it–it was so sweet!)
(I also got those too funny pics of the Roc wearing Annabella’s Hannah Montana wig I posted this weekend! Just like with the Batman costume–he really enjoyed checking himself out in the mirror wearing that wig!)
I’m really loving these changes and leaps in progress the Roc has been making lately. He still wants to play with me a lot but he is always asking if there are kids to play with. He just told me this morning “I don’t want it to be just the Roc and Mommy” when we were talking about what we would play with when he gets home from school. I can’t help but remember that at this time two years ago he was mostly using echoalia to communicate, was having lots of screaming fits, did not possess many play skills, and really wanted nothing to do with other children. I was heartbroken to get the diagnosis. Suddenly I couldn’t picture his future and heard many bleak statistics which for a time plunged me into deep despair.
Watching and listening to the Roc interact with the neighbor boys and his cousins has filled me with hope. He has accomplished so much in two years. I wonder what he will be like two years from now.
I’ll keep holding onto my hope.