Friday, June 14, 2013

Say my name, say my name

A few times during the week, Nikko will wake up between 11:30pm-1:00am, bolt out of bed and come looking for me to put him back to bed. Last night I told my husband that I wanted to take a quick shower before Nikko woke up. As I prepared my bathroom stuff, I heard Nikko fling open his bedroom door. Denis said he'd go sit with Nikko so I could go shower, so I turned around and went back to my business. Throughout my shower I could hear Nikko crying and getting upset because I wasn't the one in the room with him. I heard Nikko reciting phrases from movies and whining. As I finished up in the bathroom I heard him say, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

That is the first time I have ever heard him call me Mommy independently, wanting me to come to him or needing my help. My heart softened and I hurried to relieve Denis so that I could be with Nikko to settle him back to sleep.

Nikko has said Mommy by rote when being prompted to say good bye, and he learned how to announce "MommyIgopoopoopotty" because that's the phrase I taught him to say when he ran toward the bathroom to do #2. And that's exactly how he says it, in one long sentence. But I felt differently when I heard him call out for me from the bedroom. It's been six years and I have never heard him call for me by name. Until last night. This is from a kid who does most of his talking during weekly speech therapy sessions, who can't tell me how his day at camp went, and who wanders back into his own little world while I try to pull him out long enough to get a few homework sheets completed.  Nikko saying "Mommy" was awesome because it means so much more than just one word: he verbally acknowledged my existence (that in of itself is huge), he knew what he wanted and expressed it with tone and feelings attached, he said Mommy instead of crying, whining or dropping to the floor in defiance, and he did something so neurotypical, so normal when he doesn't usually do what's normal or age appropriate.

I wonder when he'll say it again.

Friday, April 19, 2013

1st Grade Jungle Music Program

Tonight was Nikko’s 1st grade school musical. Jungle Music was the theme. Nikko had to wear a bright colored solid t-shirt, black pants, black socks and black shoes. A trip to Target earlier in the week solved the black clothing and I was happy that he fit into a very nice pair of dress shoes (he outgrew the socks and shoes he wore a year ago in San Francisco). I didn’t know what to expect when we sat in the school gym waiting for the 1st grade classes to line up on the bleachers. Mom and Dad made a trip out to see him and I was happy that they came. The teachers led the kids into the gym and I saw that Nikko was standing on the 2nd tier of risers farthest away from us. I took my phone for pictures and video, got up and scurried to the other side of the room. Nikko saw me and constantly turned to look at me. I ended up standing right next to Mrs. McCarthy, which was one of Nikko’s teachers from Circle of Friends –and one of my favorite people.

I wondered if Nikko would wander away from his spot on the risers but he only took two or three side steps out of place and wandered back. His teachers were a few feet away looking out for him. Out of all the songs I heard on the program, I think I saw his mouth move to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. He would watch his peers to see what hand movements they were doing, if they were stomping their feet or if they were lifting up their masks to cover their faces. Nikko did some random arm movements of his own as well. I was surprised when he and a few other kids were shuffled to the very front and center of the group, holding egg-sized shakers. He didn’t bolt, didn’t jump around and didn’t deviate from the group. Victory!

And then… at the end of a song, since he was standing a foot away from a floor microphone, Nikko stepped forward and said into the microphone, “Hewww-wooooowww” in a low, hearty voice. I started laughing as did Mrs. McCarthy. That’s my boy! Luckily, Nikko didn’t continue to speak into the microphone and they were ushered back to the 2nd tier.

After the performance, I went to retrieve Nikko from the classroom in which I dropped him off. He was sitting next to his classmate Matthew. When Matthew saw me, he immediately turned to Nikko, tapped him on the arm and urged him to go to me. Nikko wasn’t paying attention but Matthew was being helpful and stayed by his side. I was very touched so I thanked Matthew for being so nice to Nikko. It breaks my heart that Nikko won’t always have nice people around to help him out in chaotic situations, so I really try to thank those who do act nicely toward him. Matthew is a gem.

I was really happy with Nikko and his behavior in the musical. I was so proud that he was able to stay in place and mimic the movements. I am relieved that he didn’t get frustrated or anxious about anything and start to have a meltdown.  A little over 100 kids were in the musical and Nikko was the only one flapping his arms randomly. There was one other child that’s in Nikko’s special ed class that reflected some special needs as well, but it made me sad to know that Nikko stood out when he wasn’t paying attention to his peers. I am hoping that as he matures, he’ll want to participate more and develop the language necessary to form relationships. It was a great night for Nikko overall.