Today was one of those days again where I had to sit back in amazement and think of how much things have changed over the last few years.
Many of our family and friends know that we have been wrestling with a diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia and some unspecified sensory issues with our now nine-year-old. I'm not sure why my blog has not reflected this journey. My last post about the topic was two-years ago.
Perhaps it has been a little bit too intense -- a little bit too personal -- to share. Perhaps we have been so busy finding resources, working our plan and just surviving to try to synthesize info into a bite-size blog post.
Maybe it's all that and some other things I do not yet realize and cannot name.
The sting of those words and the helplessness that I felt as her mother is still fresh. I felt as if our genetic code had somehow let her down.
But as with most parents who have children "on the spectrum," we couldn't afford much time for sorrow and recriminations. So, we got to work.
We worked with our charter school to craft an IEP (individualized education plan) for Hadley that would help both build new pathways across the brain, to help discover and implement the best way that she learns, and to catch up in areas where her challenges had caused her to fall behind her peers emotionally, educationally and socially.
So, we embarked on a two year program that has included occupational therapy once a week, one-on-one counseling, reading and math tutoring, interactive metronome therapy, horseback riding and a big move from the city to the country to give her the space she so craved and the animal husbandry she has always longed for.
To be honest, we have been working so hard that at times, we forget to come up for air and take a good long look at how far we have come.
And it's a fair distance.
I almost cannot see that sad little seven-year-old who I stumbled upon who was hitting herself in the head and chanting, "I'm stupid. I'm stupid. I'm stupid."
Okay...to be honest, I know I will always remember that little girl. That sorrowful moment is etched upon my heart.
But what I don't see anymore is that devastated girl when I look in my almost ten-year-old's eyes.
What we have been doing has been working.
This snail-lovin' girl of today celebrates her love of all things creepy crawly. Things that would make her middle-aged mother shudder makes her smile widen.
They seem as drawn to her as she is to them -- and animals of all kinds. This week when our pregnant female cat was looking for a place to have her kittens, she chose Hadley's closet...
...much to her delight.
That natural love of all God's creatures made her a great candidate for the "Don't Bug Me" event at our county-wide Science Olympiad for grades 3-6 today. Our homeschool charter was a participant and the students each chose two events to compete in and spent the last several month in preparation.
It was not without trouble.
Hadley was worried about her "stage fright" and whether she could do the event in a crowd. Her mother was worried about whether her dyslexia would rise up and make it difficult for her to decode the words on the page for the trivia questions. Some of the class times Hadley didn't want to participate. She didn't seem to want to read the books I found for her. Yet somehow the info got in there...and to be honest, I think much of it was already in there from her natural love of insects.
So neither of us knew what to expect today when we got up early and drove the thirty minutes to the event at a local high school.
It was big.
Thankfully her IEP made it possible for her to have the use of a reading assistant if needed. Although, a last minute partner who added to her event from our school provided the confidence she needed in that area and in general. Once Tyren showed up and they saw the friendly face of our team coordinator, they were ready to go.
So, she did her thing while I chatted with parents outside. At this point, the event was just the cherry on top of a semester of fun science experiments. There wasn't much expectation or pressure on our students.
After a break, Hadley moved on to her other event, "Cool It" which involved constructing a insulating device out of materials given that would keep an ice cube from melting the slowest in the allotted time. She and her partner, Ryan, had done a great job over the semester and while his mom and I chatted outside a little anxious for our students, the two of them were calmly drawing pictures and playing Rochambeau while they waited for their device to be evaluated.
And then finally it was awards presentation time. As they started listing off the events and winners, I whispered a brief prayer that Hadley might win something...anything....because I knew it would be a boost to my smart girl who doesn't always think she is so smart.
And...when they announced the winners of "Cool It," they called her team number! They won 5th place out of a total of 30 teams!! They were one of the youngest teams in the room.
And then awhile later, they called her team number again for "Don't Bug Me," and lo and behold, her team got 3rd place out of 17 teams! Again, they were one of the younger teams.
Oh...but if you could have seen my girls face! Her shy smile lit up the field for her proud mama. I choked back tears of joy as she was presented with her medals.
All of her hard work paid off today in a way I'm not sure we fully grasp.
And we don't have to because all we need to do today is be grateful for God's grace and the hope we have that things in Hadley's world will continue to improve and that her future is wide-open for her to walk into.
All the things that every parent wants for their child.