I realize that I haven’t done a very good update on Matthew lately, so here goes nothing.
Matthew has now been a part of our family for 17 months, and I have to say up front that the adjustment has been much more arduous than we had hoped. It is still ongoing and sometimes hard to see a lot of progress while you are living it. But that is why I like to write these updates every once in a while, because I can genuinely see how far Matthew has come. And I can realize that a “bad day” now doesn’t even compare to what I considered a “bad day” 15 months ago.
I think that one of the biggest changes I have seen in Matthew lately is that his emotional responses are beginning to be appropriate. What I mean here is that for over a year, in situations where most kids would be sad or scared or surprised, Matthew would be angry and defiant. It felt like that was his only emotion. Lately, I have noticed that he is responding to sad things with sadness, to scary things with fear, etc. What a relief! He still has a lot of trouble using “feelings language”. For instance he can’t tell me that he is sad or mad. He can’t respond to “why” in any situation, which is really hard. We try to give him words–it seems like you are sad–but when he is upset or sad or overwhelmed, he still reverts to not making eye contact and answering everything with “okay”.
We still have bad days, and they usually come in clusters, where he is angrier than usual or just more irritable, but the bad patches are getting farther and farther apart. And the anger during those patches is always less than the anger during the previous patch.
Spring is here and his allergies have kicked into high gear accordingly. As of Friday, he is on 3 different allergy medications, which seem to have gotten things under control. This time last year, we had to rush him to the emergency room with a severe case of allergic croup and I will do anything to prevent things from getting that dire again. One of his medications is eye drops and he hates them, but he is getting much better about letting me put them in. As long as I give him a little control, it helps. Sometimes he tries to talk me out of it, saying, “mo-om, no eye drops. I perfect!!!”.
That’s a new favorite saying of his–he loves asking me “I perfect?” and I always assure him, “yes, you are perfect!”.
He is still very small. Very small. He finally hit 30 pounds, which is 2 pounds more than when he came home. At the end of last summer, I gave away all of his 24 month clothes telling myself that he would grow over the next year. And last Saturday, I had to go out and buy all new 24 month clothes….and to be honest, if there hadn’t been adjustable waistbands in the shorts, the 18 month would have worked just as well. So frustrating–I worry about his tiny size, and it kills me to see the kids in his class a full head taller than him. He’s still wearing the very same pajamas he wore when he came home 17 months ago. I plan to discuss this with his pediatrician at his 4-year check up in a few weeks. (Yes, I am about to have two 4-year olds!!!)
We recently had his IEP meeting at school. This was to discuss his individual education plan for the next school year. They recommended that he continue attending his developmental preschool 3 mornings per week, where he will receive speech therapy twice weekly. He recently “graduated” from the physical therapy he was receiving there and he definitely has come a long way on his balance, coordination, etc. Many of his goals for next year are social goals. He still doesn’t engage the children in his class and he is still content with parallel play. But he HAS come a long way. His teacher told me that for the first few months of school, he didn’t interact with any of the kids, and now even though he doesn’t initiate anything, he is beginning to respond to the other children.
Matthew actually received his very first invitation to a birthday party. He has been able to tag along with Isaac to parties in the past, but this is Matthew’s friend. I am so excited that I am keeping him home from his developmental preschool to attend, and having my mom stay home with Isaac. I am just dying to see how Matthew interacts with the kids. Please say a prayer that he has fun. We never really know what to expect, and I am just desperate for him to have a great time.
This last thing might not sound like much, but it has really stuck with me. To get the full effect, let me tell you that for about a year, if Matthew woke up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom, it always went the same way. Blood curdling screams, Jason or I go to his room, carry him to the bathroom, dangle him over the toilet (while he screamed), carry him back to bed, get him settled. We started to joke that his wife was going to cut off liquids at 4 PM because she would get tired of carrying him to the bathroom at night. Well last week, I heard him beginning to cry and I went in his room. I asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom and he said yes. There’s the first difference–he was communicative and relatively calm. He walked next to me to the bathroom and went all by himself (!!!!). Well, I helped with the pj pants in the interest of time–it WAS the middle of the night. When he was done, he looked up at me and said cheerfully, “goodnight mama” and started to walk back to his room. All by himself. I stood there in our hallway at 3 AM stunned, as the reality of how far he had come hit me. It wasn’t just his calmer demeanor or the fact that he did things on his own, it was the confidence he had as he walked away…down a dark hallway.
Like he didn’t need me to come get him all settled back into his bed (even though I did).
Like he owned the place.
Like he was home.
I would say that’s progress.