Get ready for a long post today. Hannah turned ten today, and I want to do a “then and now” comparison of how far she’s come these past six years. So here is one day in her life this week with comparisons and comments inserted.
As I write it, I am filled with gratitude to God for all He has done and a sense of hope for what else He might be pleased to do in Hannah’s life. Enjoy!
Hannah got herself up, got dressed, and played quietly while I took a shower. When I came out of the bathroom, she was sitting in my rocking chair petting our dog, Penny. She turned to me and stated, “Penny has whiskers. Whiskers starts with “w.” W-w-w-whiskers.”
As we got breakfast ready, she put Penny’s food in the dog dish and gave her the commands to sit, shake, lay down, roll over, and stay. Then released her with “OK” to eat her food.
Six years ago: Hannah had quit using and saying words that she had previously known and used. Now she talks quite a lot.
She got her cereal and helped herself to seconds at the table while we all sat chatting.
Six years ago: Hannah looked at her plate during meal times or sat with her arm over her face. Now she participates in meals.
After we finished eating, we did our Scripture Memory time as usual. Hannah does not recite with us, but she listens every morning to the verses we quote. This morning we defined the character trait Generosity: “sharing what I have with a happy spirit” and recited 2 Corinthians 9:7. When the verse ended, she asked, “Is generosity like when I share my toys?”
At the end of our breakfast time, we began to discuss where we might keep Penny when we take a two-week trip later this spring. Hannah sat for a while and then told me, “I want to bring Penny with us.”
Six years ago: Hannah was not “connected” with what was going on around her. Now she listens to conversations around her and contributes to them.
After breakfast she brushed her teeth, combed her hair (something we still need to work on!), and made her bed. Then we did her morning schoolwork.
- Reviewed the value of nickels and pennies and played “store” with some toy kittens to practice counting and combining the coins correctly (still need to work on nickels and the concept of 5s).
- Did an eye-tracking exercise to help her cross the center line visually and mentally, stimulating the sides of her brain to work together.
- Reviewed how to make a lower-case “a” and wrote several words that have “a” in them (still having trouble with “s” facing the right direction). We’re using Handwriting Without Tears.
- Read to her an A. A. Milne poem, “The King’s Breakfast,” with lovely illustrations throughout. Hannah laughed at the end.
Six years ago: Hannah would not look at a book being read to her; played with her own book or toy instead. Now she loves our read-aloud times and often narrates to me what we read about.
While I helped her sister do schoolwork, Hannah played a computer game (Edmark’s Jungle Chess). She came to tell me that she couldn’t get the sound to work and asked me to help. We discovered that her sister had turned down the sound when she had been playing previously. So we turned the sound back up and Hannah continued playing.
A few minutes later she came back to ask when we were going to eat lunch. I told her that we would eat in a little while. So she got her toy kittens and played with them.
Six years ago: Hannah lined up blocks, books, puzzles, and toys instead of playing with them. Now she plays with toys appropriately.
As she was playing, she noticed that the fax machine was receiving some documents. She got them and handed me the faxes. I told her to give them to Daddy instead. Off she ran to deliver the papers.
When she returned, it was time for lunch. We were having leftovers, so she told me, “I want rice for lunch.”
Six years ago: Hannah would grab our hand and pull us to what she wanted, instead of verbally requesting it. Now she uses her words.
While everyone was getting their leftovers and waiting for the microwave, one sister sang a part of a Jungle Jam song. Hannah immediately chimed in with, “I like the part about . . .” and she described another part of a Jungle Jam tape.
Six years ago: Hannah said nothing just to share experiences; all communication was a request of some kind.
When she finished eating her lunch, Hannah brought a bag of cookies to the table and looked at me as she set them down to see if it was all right to have them for dessert.
Six years ago: Hannah wouldn’t look anyone in the eyes. Now she checks our eyes and faces for approval.
She asked, “Two of them?” meaning that she should take two enzymes along with her cookies. I nodded to confirm her thoughts. Then she picked up one of the inner bags, but it was still sealed shut. Her sister said, “That’s the wrong bag. Use the other one.” So she did — no problem. She had a little trouble getting the cookies out of the bag, so I helped her shake them out. Then I twisted the bag shut. She noticed what I was doing, picked up the plastic clip, looked at me, and said, “Here’s the clip.” She clipped it on while I held the bag, then she took it and put it away.
Six years ago: Hannah didn’t reference anyone’s face to gain information and she didn’t regulate her actions to work together in a coordinated fashion. Now she is learning to do both more and more.
While she was eating her cookies, I heard a “Mom, . . . Mom.” Once she had my attention she began telling me about the animal footprints on her Alaska placemat. She made up a scenario about the animals and the footprints and how the dog in the background was being chased by a cat.
Six years ago: Hannah didn’t carry on a conversation or put together her own words to communicate. Now she is making up her own stories to tell us.
We had planned to go to the store after lunch to get a few things. Hannah initially wanted to stay home from the store, but she decided to go when we mentioned that she could pick out a gift for a friend’s birthday party tonight. (Now that she is understanding the concept of receiving gifts, we’re trying to encourage the flip-side and get her excited about giving gifts too.)
She kept up with us in the parking lot and store aisles, and picked out some caramel-filled chocolates for a gift. When we got home, she helped carry in the bags from the store. By then, it was 3:00, so she asked if she could have her snack. With my permission, she got herself some raisins and peanuts — and put them away when she was done.
I then told her that it was time to do her afternoon schoolwork. Usually we do it right after lunch, but she was fine with doing it after snacks today instead. Here’s what she did:
- Worked on vowel sounds, using “hit, hat, hot” (We did them yesterday with magnetic letters; so we did them again today with the whiteboard and magnetic letters. She seems to do better with the magnetic letters than with them written on the whiteboard for some reason.)
- Wrote more words with “a” in them.
- Reviewed various ways to divide ten. She counted out ten colored tiles from a big bag full of them, then divided them into two piles and told me how many was in each pile. I wrote the numbers, and we repeated with about four different equations.
- Drew a picture of Penny’s dog pillow and kennel, complete with Penny laying on the pillow.
After schoolwork, she played a couple of computer games (Jungle Chess and Sky Island Mysteries). In the middle of Jungle Chess she came to find me and explained that her sister had turned down the sound again and would I please help her turn it back up. I did, and she was sure to say, “Thank you.”
Six years ago: Hannah would lay on her bed for hours looking at a toy; not playing with it in the usual sense, just turning it over and over and looking at it. Now she uses her time to explore, play, and interact.
One of her sisters joined her during the computer game. At one point Hannah asked this sister to move her foot since it was on the stool where Hannah had taped the background scenery for her Balto play a couple of days ago. Sister moved her foot and asked, “Is that better?” “Yes,” Hannah replied.
Six years ago: Hannah had no pretend play; she didn’t know how to pretend. Now she’s putting on whole plays from her imagination.
Our friends were due to arrive after supper for the birthday party. Hannah had time to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. When she saw which episode it was, she told her sister about one of the upcoming scenes and proceeded to imitate a character’s voice.
Six years ago: Hannah had one volume and one pitch of voice. We have worked a lot on soft/loud and high/low. Now we’re starting to see some results.
When Mr. Rogers was over, Hannah waited patiently for the birthday friends to arrive.
Six years ago: She didn’t acknowledge people coming or going around her. Now she anticipates the arrival of friends.
The rest of the evening was an opportunity to see just how much Hannah has grown to flex with real life and the changes we all encounter every day. We usually open birthday presents in the living room, but since our guests were having coffee in the dining room, I suggested that Hannah bring the presents to the table. She did so and ended up sitting in her dad’s chair in order to be near the birthday guest. Since she was sitting in Dad’s chair, Dad sat in her chair. He drew her attention to that fact in a good-natured way, and she giggled and said it was all right if he sat in her chair.
When it was time for her bedtime story, Dad volunteered to do the reading while I spent more time with our guests. Hannah agreed and enjoyed her story; then I brushed her teeth and tucked her in with prayer and some praise music playing on a CD.
Whew! That’s a lot of typing, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into our lives at this stage in the journey. We’ve come a long way. To God alone be the glory!
Of course, we still have rough days. I would consider this one to be one of Hannah’s “good” days. But God is faithful. He has provided the perseverance and strength and wisdom that you have prayed over us for these six years, and He will continue to do so for the next six years and more. We are committed to keep on keeping on, holding tightly to His hand.
Happy 10th Birthday, Hannah!