Those of you that follow my blog at DorkyDeb.com know that we went through a rather nasty storm on June 29th, 2012 called a Derecho. If you’d like to read more about that little adventure, you can click here.
The storm (and following storms) resulted in record-breaking power outages. The whole thing threw Ella a bit off. It is a well-known fact that individuals on the spectrum often have problems with changes in routine, and the storm and the weeks that followed were a massive change in routine.
It was enough to throw everyone “off”, especially Ella. She was stimming a lot, making less eye contact, and was “zoning out” a whole lot more. I am happy to say that in getting back to her “normal life”, she started to improve and she is now back to her usual self.
But I thought I would share with you something that happened last night. Ella coughed, and when she did, she made a funny sound. She noticed this and tried to repeat the funny sound. Her attempts to repeat the sound, came out like a growl. She thought that was interesting, and kept doing it. We started doing it back, and we had this wonderful little vocal back-and-forth that lasted for quite awhile.
Since it was going so well, I decided to try to get her to make some other sounds while growling. Most things seemed to stress her, because she couldn’t copy them. But she enjoyed trying to say “Hi” in a growling voice. So I mostly stuck to growling and saying “Hi”. That went so well that I sent my husband to run for the camera to try to get it on video so that I could show it to Ella’s speech therapist.
Ella was distracted by the camera, especially the swinging camera strap. And didn’t perform as well on-camera as she did off. But we were able to get some of it on video.
I can’t tell you what it meant to get this sort of vocal interaction with her. It is an extremely rare event. And she was really working to try to respond to me.
Unfortunately all of that growling did not agree at all with my muscle issues and I lost my voice later that night (oh the irony! LOL) So I think if we can get her to do it again, her Daddy is going to have to be the one to do the growling.
I know I look like an idiot on this video, and I know many people wouldn’t understand why her growling back and forth with us is a big deal. But trust me when I tell you that it is a huge deal. When you’ve had your child loose so much, and suddenly she cannot look at you, cannot talk to you anymore, nothing – then things like this become extremely touching. She’s looking at me. She’s playing with me. She’s interacting with me. She is even vocally interacting with me! It’s progress. And I am so grateful for it. And if it means I act like an idiot, then so-be-it. I will gladly do anything I can to reach her and have her “with” me and interacting with me.
During this video the whole family is in the room, so you’ll hear a little off-camera chatter too. Because my other kids were so excited at what Ella was doing they couldn’t keep quiet either. LOL!
We placed her in her play yard to try to shoot the video, because it’s easiest to work with her when she is semi-confined – otherwise she tends to get involved in something else and loose focus/wander off, etc.
Something else I wanted to explain, is that part way through this video, when we are all clapping for her, she places her hands inside of mine for me to clap on them for a little bit. That might look strange to someone else. But that is how I taught her to clap, holding her hands and clapping them. So frequently when we clap, she likes to make my hands clap, or place her hands inside of mine and have me clap ON her hands. I “go with the flow” on this kind of thing, because I’m just thrilled to have her interacting with me.
I’m a firm believer in reaching her where she is at, and doing the things that help her engage with us. I think this is a much better tactic than just trying force “normal” behavior, and only “normal” behavior, on her. I’ll do whatever silly thing it takes, to help her interact with us. This was a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy watching it.
Here’s the clip: