We've been getting to see a lot more of this cute little bug because she has had this week off school. It's not often that we get to have Franny home when Sophie and I are doing our normal routine. But every time we do, I get used to it and enjoy it and it makes it so hard to send her back to school. I am hugely grateful for Franny's school. It is absolutely right for her and I love that she can go. But it's also been really nice to have her home. After Sophie went down for her nap I put a movie on for Franny and did a little sewing. When her movie was over, she came and found me and gave me a big hug. She wanted to help me so I let her use the "big" scissors to cut the threads. She loves to help.
Today was our first day at the outdoor pool this summer! We had a great time. Especially Franny.
A little more on Franny:
She likes to take pictures now. Usually of me and Bobby. I think I'll make a collage of her work and post it sometime. After she took a picture of me, she wanted me to take a picture of her in front of a black backdrop I hung up for my aprons. At the last second she did this crazy dance move and jumped to the side. I loved how the picture turned out.
Franny has certain items of clothing that she really likes. A pair of stretchy pants that are 2 sizes too tight for her, her yellow "flower pants" that my Dad sent her, and this set of pajamas that my Grandma made for her. Only she HAS to wear them with these shorts over them. She came up with this on her own and we think she thinks it looks awesome. Oh yeah, and just fyi, she was wearing two pairs of panties in this particular picture. Not sure why.
I took the girls to Columbia last week for Franny's checkup with Dr. Stroud. She is a developmental pediatrician and is the one who gave Franny her diagnosis. We love her. We love her staff. We love visiting her office. So we were both happy and sad when they told us we didn't need to come back for our regular six-month check-up. They feel that since Franny is doing so well they won't need to see her for another year. In fact, her nurse practitioner said that Dr. Stroud didn't even need to come in on this visit because of all of Franny's progress. I said, "Aw, that's nice... I still want to see her, though." So I thought I better snap this picture since we won't be seeing her for a while. We love Dr. Stroud.
I don't write about autism enough. I'd like to be helpful to other mothers and families who have to face the challenge of raising a kid with autism. I don't know why I don't. I think I have a healthy approach to it. It doesn't scare me like it used to at all. I've learned so much and we've had so much help. And yet, 2006 started with a speech diagnostic test at the nearby university and ended with her autism diagnosis in December. It was one of the hardest years of my life and it totally rocked my world. There was a time when I really wanted to hear from another mom that it gets better. That someday I would feel okay about Franny's autism. That the sorrow and grief I was dealing with was normal. What's wrong with me anyway? Why am I always looking for validation? Is this normal? Am I normal? I finally found what I was looking for in a book, and then again in another book. Karyn Seroussi's book "Unraveling the Mystery of Autism" and then in Catherine Maurice's "Let Me Hear Your Voice." Well, it did get better. It got A LOT better. So why don't I write about my experiences? I wish I knew and I'll try to be better.
Here's something from Seroussi's book that I could really identify with:
"If this is so common, why haven't I heard of it before? I just discovered that there are two other children with autism on my street? Why wasn't I warned? This is not happening to me. I didn't sign up for this. I'm not cut out to be one of those noble parents of the disabled. But what if it is true? What if my beautiful, perfect baby has a severe, lifelong disability? The answer is this pain in my body. The answer is that my child has been kidnapped and no officials can be notified, no suspects can be questioned. Life goes on as usual, but my baby's soul and spirit are gone."
So sad, I know. I was crying really hard by the time I finished this paragraph. It felt good to know that someone else out there had felt the way I was feeling, though. And we got her back. And it took a lot less time than I expected it to. She started looking when we called her name. We saw her start using her finger to point. She started to learn words and to use them to label things. She learned how to follow directions and her eye contact improved. We started to witness miracles on a regular basis. There were so many who made such a difference in her life and ours. Since she was 2 1/2, she's had a team of people who get together monthly to discuss her progress. These people feel like family to me. I don't know what's going to happen with Franny. Obviously we can't predict the future, but I am thrilled that my little Franny is so happy. I never could have imagined that summer of 2006 what a cheerful, obedient, sweet little girl she would be as a 4 year old. I wish someone could have told me that 2 years ago. It probably would have saved me a few sleepless nights! :)