Thursday, May 29, 2008

Frances Scout

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! :)

15 comments:

Rachel said...

Katherine she is so beautiful. Really. And you, my friend, are a fantastic mother.

Jane said...

I love that little girl. I wish we lived close enough to get together. You are so amazing, thanks for sharing this. That paragraph made me cry to, I just can't imagine.

Jodie said...

Your strength amazes me. You always seem to face things with such courage. I think that you and Bobby have done amazing things with Franny and I am in awe with how much she has grown and learned in the last 2 years. I have loved watching her progress. Her smile lights up the room. That is awesome progress if she doesn't have to go back to the doctor for a year!! Such an amazing little girl and family!

Anne said...

She is so beautiful and sweet. She is blessed to have you as her mom and Bobby as her dad.

Jill said...

I really do love Franny, she is just the sweetest little girl and I miss her a lot! I am glad to hear she is doing so well, we still talk about Franny a lot around here, Alyssa always wants to go to Missouri to go see her.

Melissa said...

Franny is so sweet and amazing! She has learned a lot in the last two years. I loved everytime she came into the studio at the TCC for dance class; she would jump right in and start dancing, having so much fun. She is so beautiful.

EllynAnne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EllynAnne said...

Katherine, I stumbled upon your blog and upon reading of your youngest's daughter's autism, was moved to write. I have a sixteen year old niece who is autistic, and through my sister's never-ending efforts on Lara's behalf, Lara has a life, including a prom in two weeks! The road to this point has been very difficult, and thankfully, with the public's recent awareness of autism and the attention autism is receiving by celebrities and the media, many of the challenges my sister faced 16 years ago are not yours.
I often wondered about my sister's silence in sharing Lara's autism, figuring she'd be gung ho to share resources, etc., but while searching for help for her daughter, she also had a son to raise, a marriage to nurture and a home to maintain. What I finally figured out was parents of autistic kids rarely have a moment to themselves, much less time to bestow on strangers. So, thank you for taking what little private time you do have to share of yourself through your lovely creations and this blog.
Wishing you and yours a happy summer!
EllynAnne Geisel
(author of The Apron Book)
Tie One On...an apron, of course!
www.apronmemories.com

May 30, 2008 12:36 PM

Sheryl said...

Your little family is amazing. Your daily celebration of life with your girls is so great! Franny will teach more and more people great things in her life as they take the time to get to know your beautiful girl! You bless us all with your love and insight.

Jessica said...

What a sweet post. I just love Franny. She is so darling. I am so happy that she is doing so well and that you are so at peace with everything. You are an amazing mom. I am always so impressed with you and Bobby. You are both so patient and so caring. I know that is why Franny was blessed to come to your family. I love and miss you.

Carole said...

I am so proud of you, Katherine. You and Bobby are the GREATEST parents for Franny. I am sure that you were specially picked for her by a very wise Heavenly Father. I am amazed at the progress she has made in the last year or so, and a lot of it is due to you and Bobby. I think what you wrote on your blog will be very helpful to a lot of people who haven't really accepted what they are having to deal with yet.

What a little sweetheart she is. I really had to smile when I saw her in her little p.j's and shorts. I love her and you, my sweet grandaughter! You are the best! Grandma

Julia Warner said...

Gosh, way to make me cry. You and Bobby really are amazing with Franny. She couldn't have asked for better parents. She is doing so well. She is so sweet and so beautiful. I miss you guys so much. I heard that we are probably coming there for Thanksgiving!!!! Woohoo! I can't wait. Love you!

Erin said...

Katherine, the end of your post and the paragraph from the book made me cry. You have gone through so much.... I guess that is why you are such a neat person. I really look up to you. Your family is wonderful!

rebecca said...

I agree with everything said already. Franny is truly an amazing little gal. A big part of that is because of the attitude and precious care you and Bobby have shown her through this last year or two. What a lucky little girl she is to have you and Bobby watching over her on this earth :)

hayley said...

You never cease to amaze me. I can't even imagine what intense emotions you have felt and been through these past years. Especially after reading what you have shared and knowing I am only feeling a tiny fraction of what you felt for a long time (of course I cried and felt that knot in my stomach). I am so happy for you and your family and that everything is going well with Franny. She is beautiful little girl and is so lucky to have an amazing mom like yourself. I honestly don't know how you do it all! Keep it up, it is so inspiring:)

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