Ethan’s Progress Report

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I know.  It has been awhile.  I want to get better about posting weekly progress reports.  It is a goal of mine for the new year.  But, remember, we are not celebrating our new year until February 10, so I still have a few more weeks to get organized.  Given the illnesses and the surgery and the craziness around here, we have decided that Chinese New Year will be the fresh, new year for our family.  And, it will be great.

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On to sweet, sweet Ethan.  He is doing great.  Truly great.  We are learning new things about him and about apraxia all the time.  We even found a new iPad app this past week, and his speech therapist is so excited to try out SpeechBox during therapy.

What is truly amazing is how well Ethan is picking up sign language.  We are all learning together, but Ethan is so much better at remembering the words than the rest of us. Through his sign language, he is learning to read.  When his teacher sends home passages for him to read, I am just amazed when Ethan can sign the reading passages to us.  I had him demonstrate it for his general education teacher one day, and the entire class gathered around and cheered for him.  They love him, but they do not always realize what he is capable of until he shows them.  They were so proud of him, and it was such a beautiful moment to witness.

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What I want everyone to know is that Ethan is about so, so much more than his special needs.  He is an amazing son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew, friend, and student.  He has been blessed with such a gift of kindness and compassion.  When Summer was so sick last week, Ethan was at home sick, as well.  He was feeling better, but he had to stay home since he had fever the night before.  He witnessed her suffering, and it was hard for him.  It was hard for all of us.  This past week when Summer said that her ear felt better, Ethan was the first one to cheer for her.  He knows pain, and he was genuinely happy to know that his sister was not suffering anymore.

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Yesterday, I witnessed something beautiful when I looked out my back door.  Gabriel and Ethan were running laps together.  Every few steps, Gabriel would look back to make sure that Ethan was keeping up and encourage him to keep going.  It took my breath away.  You see, Gabriel and Ethan are only 18 months apart in age.  When we had them so close together, we had hoped and prayed that they would be close.  However, when Ethan had so many delays when he was a baby and then toddler, I admit, I wondered if the boys would ever be the friends, confidants, and play mates that we had hoped that they would be. There was no reason for me to ever worry about that.  When I look at them now, they are honestly even closer than I had ever dreamed that they would be.

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I am so proud that Ethan is my boy.  He is joy, happiness, and love.  I cannot imagine him being anyone other than who he is.  He is capable of great things, and I know that he has an amazing future ahead of him.  I am so thankful that he is mine.

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Ethan’s Progress Report

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It has been a long time.  I know.  One of my goals for the new year is to find a time to write because it really is one of my favorite things.  However, I love my family more. And, right now, when I have extra time, I spend it with them instead of writing.  I am still figuring out the whole balancing life with working and family time.  I will figure it all out, and, when I do, I will write more.

With all of that being said, the good news is that Ethan has had a great 2nd grade year so far.  We are very, very proud of him and all of his progress.  He is learning to read with this amazing sign language program at school.  He signs and approximates the words, and he matches the pictures with the sentences.  Watching him always makes me smile.  He is working so hard, but, he also makes it look so easy.  We are learning the signs with him, and I think that he really likes teaching us.

He showed his entire class how he can read last week, and, when he did, they all cheered for him.  It gave me chills.

Earlier in the week, I talked to a parent who has a son in Ethan’s class.  They were in the same class in Kindergarten, but they were not in the same class in 1st grade.  So, the parents had not really been around Ethan in over a year.  Last week, the dad was a volunteer in the classroom, and he went home telling the mom all about Ethan, how much he has progressed and how verbal and animated he has become.  Their best friends have a child with autism who is nonverbal.  While Ethan’s diagnosis is childhood apraxia of speech, and not autism, it still gives them great hope that their best friends’ son will make verbal progress, as well.  Giving people hope always makes me happy.

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Ethan is making great progress at speech therapy, too.  He is meeting his goals, and every week, his speech therapist tells me how great he is doing.

Yesterday, I was the substitute teacher in Ethan’s classroom.  I was sitting in my classroom eating lunch with him when I received the news about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I was immediately filled with great sadness, and I still am today.  Being a mom and working in education, it all hit really, really close to home. I am counting my blessings this morning and hugging my littles just a little bit tighter, while keeping the parents in Newtown in my prayers.

I am lucky.  Lucky that I get to go to work with my littles almost every day.  Lucky that, while Ethan does still have a long road ahead of him in regards to academic development, he is here with us making progress every single day.  All of my children are here with me making their own progress every single day.  While I do not write a Gabriel or Summer progress report, they are special and unique and amazing, too.  And, they contribute to Ethan’s progress every single day.  They celebrate it as much as we do. Because, just as it has always been, we are in this as a family…together.

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Ethan’s Progress Report

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Last week I hinted at sharing good news about Ethan.  Then, life got busy with school, a special birthday party, planning for October, and a stomach bug that quickly made its way through our home.  So, the good news, while still at the forefront of my heart, had to take a seat on the back burner while I was able to get caught up a little.

What happened last week was so especially exciting because, honestly, I did not really ever foresee a day when this would happen.  Of course we have dreamed about Ethan talking and reading and going to college, but we know that the reality is that he might never do those things.  While we are perfectly happy with the super-incredible person who Ethan is right now, we do want amazing things for his future, just as we do for Summer and Gabriel.

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So, when Ethan’s teacher sent home a book for him to read, I fully expected to just read it to him each night, knowing that reading to a child is one of the best ways to develop fluency, comprehension, and a love of books, in general.  When I opened up the book, however, I thought, “Ethan knows these words.  He can read this.”  So, we gave it a shot.

What happened next had me jumping up and down, sending emails, and making telephone calls.  My Ethan read the entire book.  He said some words, approximated some words, and signed some words.  It was just a basic Kindergarten entry-level book, but, to me, it was a novel of epic proportions.  We read it every single night, and on Friday, Ethan read it to his teacher, too.  We are all so incredibly proud of his huge accomplishment!

As with everything in life, we enjoy the moment and then move on to the next big…or small…thing.  We celebrate, we dance, we send emails, we hug, we give high-fives, and we know that, in that particular moment, everything is good and perfect and just as it should be.  Just as there are good days, we understand that there will be bad ones, too.  But, honestly, knowing that simple truth is what makes the good days that much better. That is what makes reading a small book a reason to celebrate the huge step in Ethan’s much larger book of life.

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