The trouble with having children who make progress at such a slow rate is that you can go for weeks and weeks and feel as though nothing is happening. This is where we have been with R. for much of the spring. It is a little dispiriting to feel as though nothing has changed, especially when you deal with the same behaviors over and over and over. I spend a lot of time telling myself it is really OK if this is where she stays. We knew she would be with us for the long term from the start, and are committed to her regardless. But it is not really about me and J. that makes me sad, but about her. I want so much more for her. I want her to be able to do things, to participate in her own life, to have an inner life, to find interest in things. Some days I'm nearly driven wild with the desire to be able to reach into her head and unlock the door she has hidden herself behind. But that door is so well-hidden and so well locked, some days I despair that we will ever be able to do that. As you can tell, we have seen precious little progress recently. She is just so content to sit and not be present.
And then every so often, I will see a small glimmer that gives me hope.
Two days ago, everyone was diligently doing math, so I got out the pattern blocks for R. to work on. As part of the set, I have cards which are different pictures which can be filled in with the blocks. Some have the colors and shapes on them, others are just outlines of the shapes, and still others are just an outline to be filled in however the child can make it work. R. had been able to do the pictures with the colors, though wasn't always able to get the blocks always lined up with the shape on the card. The black-and-white outlines, which you match the shape of the block to, were incomprehensible to her. She could not put a shape inside the outline on the card. It was utterly baffling to her.
So, when I started her on this the other day, we stared with the colored cards. R. did these pretty easily, and actually lined up the blocks with the shapes on the cards pretty darn well. So I took a deep breath, and gave her another card, this time with the colored shapes on one side of the card and a mirror outline on the other. You know what? She did them both. Both as in the side with the colored outlines and the side which required the child to create the mirrored image without benefit of colored outlines. I could barely believe it. I must have been in a state of shock, because I DIDN'T TAKE A PICTURE!
Believe me when I say I will hang on to this particular bit of hope for a good long while. It's enough to keep me trying to reach her.
On the other hand, H. continues to amaze me with what she can do. I can remember all too clearly when I was in the same spot with her that I currently am with R. at the moment. On the same day as R.'s pattern block triumph, H. had a section of her math book which required her to read numbers that were written out in words and then right the same number in numeral form. I gave her the instruction and once again held my breath. When I came back to check, she had done them all correctly. These were not easy numbers, but numbers such as eighty-nine and seventy-three and forty-five. Five years ago, she could not recognize any number higher than five, and now not only can she recognize them and count up to them, she can also read the words and match them to the number. All without help. Amazing.