Wednesday, October 12, 2011


All moms remember their kids' firsts, right? First word, first step, first day of school. Each of these moments is special to a mother. She marks each milestone in her heart, mentally taking a picture of how her child looks and acts.

My firstborn had great difficulty with many of his firsts. He walked and crawled on schedule, but talking took so much longer. Each word he learned took hours of painstaking instruction and repetition.

Because Danny has Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism, there are many struggles he has that other kids don't. He's not mentally impaired, but has several processing problems which makes things, like formulating sentences, extra hard for him. So many skills that come naturally for most kids take practice and therapy for Danny to learn.

Because of these difficulties, each time Danny reached a milestones it was like a small, precious miracle to me. And this is probably the reason why some of the "firsts" that I cherish are not the typical ones you would find in a baby book.

~~First time he left the public pool without having a meltdown.
The summer when Danny was almost three, we bought a pass to our public pool. Dan absolutely loved the water, but hated when we had to get out for the scheduled life guard breaks. And heaven forbid we actually left the pool to go home. The kid screamed and flailed so much that I was scared I'd be reported for kidnapping. Add to that the fact that I was about 6 months pregnant with Charlotte and I almost decided
to quit going to the pool altogether.

Instead, we made up our very first picture schedule illustrating all the steps we needed to take to get to the pool. We added in pictures representing breaks and leaving, and we showed Danny that if he cooperated when we left, he would be rewarded with a Baby Einstein video.

Within a week, Danny was leaving the pool with nary a complaint, and I was practically weeping with relief. This was not just the first time Danny left the pool without a meltdown. It was also the first time we were able to successfully communicate and correct a behavior problem. I can't tell you how hopeful that made me.

~~First time he told me he was thirsty
Like I said, Danny took a long time to start talking. Even once he did learn some words, it took him a remarkably long time to communicate certain needs. Bil and I looked at each other in astonishment when Danny told me he was thirsty for the first time.

~~First real conversation
When Danny was 4, I went on a field trip with his class. That night, I snuggled in bed with Danny and started talking about the trip to the farm. Before this incident, Danny would just listen to me as I talked; it wasn't ever much of an interaction. If he interjected anything, it was most often off topic.

This night was different, though. Danny actually talked to me about the peacocks and corrected me when I said we saw three of them. Then, he talked a bit about the ducklings, his favorite part of the field trip. I had so much fun on that trip with Danny, but my favorite part was talking to him in his bed. Getting a glimpse into his thoughts and feelings was miraculous. And it left me feeling hopeful that someday I would have a full-fledged conversation with my son.

Other less dramatic, but no less exciting milestones:

~~The first time Danny snuggled with me on his own
~~The first time he told me he loved me
~~The first time he ate a grilled cheese sandwich and a hamburger
~~The first time Danny let us cut his hair with the clippers (last week!)
~~The first time he was able to pedal his tricycle while steering

I hate that Danny has to work and struggle so much in order to master many skills. I wish I could make it all easier for him. But if there is one blessing that comes from these struggles it's that I don't take any of his accomplishments for granted.


For more posts on "firsts" check out the Spin Cycle, sponsored by the wonderful Jen over at Sprite's Keeper.


Susan said...

First are a beginning! Love all these and here's to more first!

Alysia said...

love this :) sometimes I think these firsts are the sweetest because they are the ones we thought might never come.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I love how these firsts are not "only"'s.
And I echo Alysia's comment. :-)
You're linked!

Lizbeth said...

I love this! And I got a smile about the pool and meltdowns--we go to the pool here and we've yet to come back without a good puke. Something with learning how to breathe and not swallow pool water....gets him every time.

Spectrummy Mummy said...

I'm addicted to all these stages of development that would surely have one unnoticed were it not for the diagnosis. There is always something to celebrate. :)

gretchen said...

This is so beautiful and thought provoking, I could feel your love and joy with each of these firsts. And it's a wonderful lesson for those of us whose children have fewer challenges to be thankful for that!

CaJoh said...

Sometimes you take the firsts for granted. It is great that you see all the firsts and are able to celebrate them with such fervor.

Thanks for sharing,

pegbur7 said...

What a wonderful and uplifting post! Great Spin.

Pseudo said...

I was just staying with a friend last week who told me her grandson has sensory processing disorder. She said they are working with a therapist who uses music therapy and having amazing results.

ShesAlwaysWrite said...

Love this! We just had the first time Bear talked about something he did at school. It was weeks after the fact and interjected off topic, but it made me so very happy.