What a whirlwind of a year 2014 has turned out to be. The timing of the holidays has caused us to reflect a bit on how Simon has been doing in overcoming some of his challenges, and overall, things are going pretty well. Lots of wins, still some concerns, but we're very proud of our little guy.
It's funny (though not in a "ha ha" way) how we tend to identify our lives by where we've lived. By the time Simon was 4, he had lived in five places. So in this case, we think in terms of our move to our current house in the February/March time frame. Thinking about how Simon was doing then, he has made some massive progress. We finished potty training completely, with only a single overnight accident since then. Where we could barely get him to talk about or describe his day at school, now he talks about activities and friends. Stairs were still a non-alternating foot affair, now he alternates and doesn't need a railing. Counting was mostly by chance, now he's deliberate. He's very interested in spelling. He's the kid that the other kids want to play with in class. Zippers are easy, and even socks are less of a challenge. His progress has been amazing.
Simon is still behind in a lot of things, but the pace of his learning and development seems to be good. We've seen some growth in fine motor skills, using a computer mouse, but his muscle tone is still poor and it's a struggle to get him to write or color. My hope is that his interest in spelling will drive his desire to write. We find odd things that he struggles with, like understanding gender and how it's used in language. Working imagination into his play is something that comes and goes.
As for his ASD issues, it's also a mixed bag, but mostly positive. Simon's understanding (or acceptance) of many social contracts is pretty solid. Granted, his obsession with doors means he's not so much being polite when opening doors, it's just what he needs to do. But he is extremely polite most of the time, almost to a fault. He orders his own food and drink at restaurants. What's a little concerning is that he's having a lot of trouble with certain variances from routine. He's having classic autism meltdowns around things like the order of bedtime activities, or things that just can't be helped (like a theme park ride closure). While making for some difficult moments, we're learning how to adapt and adjust, just as he is.
This fall has been a little tough for him, because he has been switched on most of the time. During the week, he has school, twice a day, with the regular pre-K class in the morning, and the "special needs" version in the afternoon. On top of that, we were also having a therapist over twice a week, meaning he was getting like an hour of unstructured time per day, and that sucked. We ended up discontinuing the work with the therapist, because after 10 sessions, he was just not clicking with her at all. I think it was a combination of experience and personality, but we were seeing a toxic side to him unlike anything we would see at other times. He just wasn't building the rapport he had with the previous therapist (who couldn't meet with him so late after school). At school, he just tends to zone out when he's not interested, a trait that I'm intimately familiar with.
The bigger consensus right now among his teachers is that he's on the right track to start kindergarten on time, but it's still a little early to know for sure. I think everyone believes there is great intelligence in that boy, but connecting to it is definitely going to require some non-standard effort. Selfishly, my greatest joy is that he seems very open to emotionally connecting, and he seems to like to pal around with his mom and dad. Diana has been nothing short of super-mom in making sure that he's getting the help he needs, but without being one of "those" parents who hovers and shields their kid from all forms of adversity.
So the news is good, with some amount of cautious optimism. We're getting a better feel for what is 4-year-old behavior, ASD behavior and other developmental delays. I wouldn't trade Simon for anything in the world.