Last evening, we had students from a local college here - we've served as a "mentor family" for the last 4 semesters. The faculty at the college finds families with special needs children to serve this role and offer their perspectives as a family to these students - usually nursing and occupational therapy students.
So last night as the students interviewed me and Mike, it made me realize (again) how much things have changed in the past 3 years. Knowing Rogan's diagnosis, their questions were appropriate:
"Does Rogan seem to interact well with the other kids in the family?" "Are mealtimes difficult then with his sensory needs? Does he have a lot of aversions to foods?" "How about school? Does he participate in activities?"
My answers all consisted of some level of the following phrase: "It's SO much better than it used to be!"
And so, as I sit here on Thanksgiving morning, I reflect on what I am grateful for. For our family, I think we have learned to wholly appreciate the little things...or at least we try to. I try to remember as I hear the kids fighting, "Wow...three years ago, Rogan would've barely been talking to them, much less, standing up for himself and FIGHTING!"
While I reprimand Rogan for "talking back" and as I sternly stare at him, he says, "Don't look at me like that!" Inside me, my heart is doing a happy dance - for so many aspects of that scenario, but primarily because he recognizes "the look!"
I am thankful that I can make corn and potatoes for Thanksgiving without Rogan gagging at the mere sight of them. (And now he eats them and LIKES them, no less!)
I hear Rogan say things like, "That's an idiom, Mom" and "I'm sorry about that, Mom" and (While watching my Vikings lose) "This must be so hard for you, Mom." I am thankful.
I get a lot of "extras" that a lot of other moms don't get from their 8-year-old:
*I get advice on shopping on Black Friday.
*I get updates as to how many hours and minutes are left until Christmas and what time it is in Iraq, where Uncle Eric is.
*I get recommendations for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit and clothing guidelines for the weather next week.
*I get a LOT of history lessons! (Did you know that Dwight Eisenhower was the 34th president and served as a general in World War II? Did you know that the teddy bear was named after Theodore Roosevelt - the 26th president - because one day, when he was hunting, he refused to shoot a bear cub that was tied to a tree? Did you know that the president with the shortest term of office was the 9th president, William Henry Harrison? He died of pneumonia after one month in 1841.)
*I get frequent hugs, scalp massages, and requests for back scratches.
So along with every inch of gratitude I feel for each "component" of my entire family, I am truly thankful for my son with autism. He has facilitated my appreciation of the little things.