A good friend from high school who now resides in Alabama, G, was up north to visit her family this week. She is the person whose blog inspired me to create my own. Blame her if you must.
On Thursday evening, she and her two sons, T & M, visited us. They had visited us last August. Not only was it nice to see them again, it was also good to be able to reflect on all of the progress that Philip has made in the past year.
When the trio visited last year, Philip was barely vocalizing. He spent the day making a “mmnn” sound. Last night, our guests got to hear him saw “wow” over and over with a few “one two”s thrown in.
Last year, Philip was mostly interested in the picture on M’s t-shirt and the sandals that T had slipped off upon arrival. Last night, Philip actually looked each boy and their mom in the face. Not for long, but it was an improvement.
We knew our guests had arrived because the knock at the door sent Roscoe into barking overdrive. He continued to bark at them once they were seated on the couch, especially when they stopped petting him.
Our thoughtful guests had come bearing gifts for Philip. M, the younger of my friend’s two sons, wanted to be the one to give Philip the Mr. Potato Head. Philip grabbed my hand right away to ask for help opening the box. While Philip played, T & M talked about all the ways that you can arrange the parts on Mr. Potato Head’s body, and we laughed at that fact that you store the spare parts in his butt.
I suggested that we move outdoors as is the routine for both dog and toddler. Roscoe barked several times to remind me of this. Once outside, Philip entertained himself by playing in the sandbox, running around the yard and going down the slide. When I noticed that M was looking bored, I offered bubbles.
The bubbles were a hit with all three boys. Philip, no longer afraid of the bubble gun, kept close so that he could look at, chase and pop bubbles. It was nice to see this interaction and engagement with others, a change from last year when Philip would have been in his own world.
Before their visit last year, I worried that Peter would feel left out of the conversation. I worried that G’s sons would get bored. They had come prepared with handheld games, but as soon as I mentioned that Peter and I play World of Warcraft, we were set. T didn’t get to play WoW with my husband during this visit, but they did spend quite a while chatting about it.
We stayed outside until the sky darkened enough to make the lightning bugs’ glow brighter. T, a great conversationalist, could have talked about WoW with my husband for another hour (at least), but G knew she needed to get her boys fed and that I needed to give mine a bath.
I’m truly thankful that our friends from Alabama stopped by. I hope they have a safe trip home.
NOTE: Here are a few other blog posts by other parents of autistic children all about acknowledging and celebrating progress: