Friday, December 15, 2006

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

It is easy to fall into the trap of chasing the cure for autism. When I read The Sound of a Miracle years ago, I set up Pamela for auditory integration training the following summer. While Pamela benefited from AIT in observable and quantifiable ways, it was no miracle for her! Over the years I have read many books that offer the magic bullet and, when tried, the pie-in-the-sky miracle vanishes like a mirage: Let Me Hear Your Voice and ABA, Son Rise and Options, Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Special Diets, etc. What is left are several steps forward in Pamela's development. Nothing we have ever tried inspired a Helen Keller at the water pump moment, but many things did yield slow and steady progress.

We left the emotional rollercoaster of cure chasing long ago and now seek improvement in quality of life. We have done our best to implement therapies that seem to have the most bangs for the buck, based upon Pamela's unique profile. The last thing we want to do is turn our lives upside down chasing the latest cure, only to be disappointed and embittered. We have learned to be pleased with the slow march of progress Pamela has made over the years, which accumulate to small miracles. From week to week, we appreciate the little wonders revealed whenever Pamela conquers a new skill. We do not crash and burn emotionally when a therapy fails to produce the miracle cure, but we do savor those tiny sparks of joy when we see improvement.

Here is a sample of the small bundles of joy I witnessed this week:

  • Pamela learned all her choreography for the last song of our Christmas program City on a Hill and stays on beat most of the time. This is a miracle for a child who flipped out at circle time as a preschooler.
  • Pamela mastered recitation another poem this week, which has the most complex language and punctuation to date. This is a miracle because, up until this year, all attempts to memorize poetry ended in failure except for Mother Goose rhymes!
  • Pamela took her first baby steps in conquering decimals with the help of dollars, dimes, and pennies. This is a miracle for she took several years to master simple addition and subtraction.
  • Pamela mastered new syntax for questions and sentences with their and they combined with can/have/do/are. This is a miracle because up until three years ago she has never been able to make predictable and measurable gains in grammar. As I prepared next week’s I/my personal description stories (to be followed by you/your questions), the questions in the first story startled me! Eight years ago, I used to drill Pamela to memorize this same list of questions in Teach Me Language through visual cuing and verbal repeating. I did not realize that, because of her syntactic aphasia, I was asking her to do a task that she has only been able to master after three years of applying a truly multi-sensory method of teaching language.


Mary said...

Like you, I am looking for small miracles. I think that Pamela has made huge gains due to your figuring out what she needs when she needs it.

Niffercoo said...

I needed to read this tonight! I have become more and more upset over the fact that we cannot get the money pulled together to start an RDI program for either of the kids, and all of the free resources are being removed from the RDI website. I've been feeling like the best chance to help my kids is slipping away from me. :( I think maybe I need to change my perspective.

diane said...

THank you for this beautiful post.

The Glasers said...

Jennifer, I am glad you drew some comfort from our experience. YOU ARE their best chance! As long as you actively engage your kids one-on-one in a quiet setting, experiment with different elements of different programs to see what works with them, and pour your heart, head, and talents into developing what they need, you will see improvements in your quality of life. Remember, not one program is the miracle cure for autism.

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

Just enjoying reading your blog tonight. Amazing- I can see every victory. it is so sweet....incredible really- I love the Helen Keller word pictures of course since Andrew is deaf as well- although Praise God his cochlear implant has allowed him to access the world of sound- it is still most amazing each and every step

The Glasers said...

Queen Mum, even when I was a pre-teen, I loved the Helen Keller story and read her book, Story of My Life, a dozen times. The version with the supplements is wonderful because Annie Sullivan lets us better understand her methods of education. Charlotte Mason commented on this book in Volume One: Page 194.