“Look Mommy, there’s the moon!”
I look up into the sky and sure enough, there it is. It was still barely light out and the moon was sitting pretty, making its presence in the early night sky.
And I smiled.
For so long I had tried to teach Declan about the moon. The sun. Clouds. All of those things were just far enough away – they became abstract notions and he was not aware of them. I would point to the sky and say, “Look! There is the moon.” But his gaze would never follow my finger. “Look, there are big clouds!” Declan’s head would move left, right, up, down without his sight ever really landing on anything.
Books have been a tradition with our other children. Our family has books everywhere. But reading was never really Declan’s thing. Books involved sitting or staying still, things that were very hard for Declan to do at anytime. By the end of his second year he enjoyed a “My First Words” board book. My husband and I would bring it out at bedtime and Declan would find and point to the same 3 things every night. A bunch of grapes, a piece of cheese and a sail boat.
We persevered and tried to read him “Good Night Moon” at bedtime. A book, a longer book at that, whose words create a pleasing cadence when read for the hundredth time. The book also brought to existence the one thing I had been pointing at for so long, yet failed at getting him to see: the moon.
To get Declan to calm, to get Declan to sit we had to apply deep pressure. To encourage him to calm we also used lotion to massage his hands, arms, legs and feet. He was quiet at these times and willing to listen to “In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of…”
The calm might last for the night. The calm might last for an hour. But the story was heard.
So much has changed since that time. Our house continues to play musical beds around Declan’s sleep. Declan can and will point to so many more pictures and tell you what they are. Declan has spent years at preschool learning nursery rhymes, pleasing sounds, calming techniques, ways to calm himself. Declan recently picked up a 4 page Spiderman board book and actually LOOKED at it for a longer time.
And last week Declan pointed to the sky and said,
“Look Mommy, there is the moon!”
When you work at something for so long, something that you took for granted in your other children – when you see all your hard work, all of your child’s hard work, come out in a moment like this – there is no other happiness quite like it. I think that is part of being a special needs parent. And it’s fantastic!