July 17, 2011

Harry's Turn

(I am almost all caught up on blogging.  Now, if I can just manage to not get behind again, I will be a super star.)
Harrison, my big boy.  My sweet boy.  Really, he is larger than life.  He is turning 3 in just couple months, and he is as big as a 4 year old.  He weighs more than Clark by almost 10 pounds, and just a couple more inches and they would be the same height.  I adore his big bluish-green eyes, and my heart melts whenever he looks at me.  He is always so curious, and thoughtful.  
Just the other night, Harry came to sleep in my bed, and we fell asleep holding hands.  I don't know if he knew I needed it, or he needed it... but it was so unbelievably sweet.  He can be so tender at times, and I really cherish those moments when he lets me in.
Sometimes, as awful as it sounds, I have a hard time thinking of good things to say about Harry.  Not because I don't love him with every single fiber of my being, or because he is a bad kid.  But I think I spend so much time concentrating on what he is and isn't doing, trying to keep him from the next tantrum, and trying to recover from all the late nights... that I forget to let him alone, and just be Harry.  
He can be so challenging, but I know he has a good heart, and he is a good kid. 
 He is so smart, we just haven't figured out how to help him express himself yet.  
Harry has grown a lot this year already.  He is much more affectionate, not really with hugs and kisses, but he will cuddle up on our laps, lay his head on us, hold our hands, and give us loves in his own special way.  He has gotten a lot better around friends, and other children.  There is still the occasional biting incident, but it is not as bad as it used to be.  It has taken about six months, but he is comfortable in nursery now, and doesn't scream every time we go to church.  And there is a small group of people (besides me and Jason) that he actually really likes, and recognizes.  He makes eye contact more readily, and sometimes I really feel like he is listening to us, and participating with family activities.
He can be so funny when we go out.  Last month when we went to DC we were walking around one of the museums, he saw this guys holding a map, and without a thought in his head he just walked up and took it.  The guy didn't even know what to say.  I was embarrassed, but I also couldn't stop laughing.  Harry just thinks everyone around him is there for his enjoyment and pleasure.  He has no shame or boundaries.  If you have something that he wants, he thinks you should give it to him :)
His joy and happiness can be so infectious.  I love when he hops around because he is excited, or he shrieks with glee when he is surprised.  I love how happy he is when he wakes up in the morning (even if it 3am, it is still cute).  I would like to think that he is happier here in Virginia, he seems so to me, and I think he has really settled into our home and community.  He has become more independent in some ways, better at asking us and telling us what he needs (even if he isn't using any words yet).  I think we have finally started figuring out Harry more... I know when he is starting to get stressed and I can help him before he losses it all and the whole day is ruined.  Also, I am starting to understand a lot of his sensory issues, and how to help him.
One of the biggest discoveries we made earlier this year was his aversion to milk and dairy.  We took him off of milk for two reasons; one, he was hopelessly addicted, it ruled his whole day and I couldn't get him to eat any real food, and two, we thought maybe it would help with his sensory issues and Autism (there has been a lot of debate whether some children with Autism, are really only showing symptoms to some sort of a food allergy).  We took him off the milk, and started giving him almond milk.  I never saw any changes in his behavior, so after a few weeks I just put him back on regular milk...and that is when all hell broke lose.  He had diarrhea, vomiting, crying all night long, more tantrums than ever... and really he just seems uncomfortable, and in pain.  We took him straight off again, and he was back to normal.  So, didn't not cure his Autism (not that I ever actually thought it would, but there was always that hope in the back of my mind), but we did seem to make him happier.  I'm not sure if it is a full blown allergy, since he does eat small amounts of cheese and cream from time to time, and he seems fine... maybe just lactose intolerant.  I feel so bad it took so long for us to figure it out.  He always seemed to have bowel issues, and was sick a lot (especially when he was stressed)... I just never realized how much pain he was in.  We have been trying to get him into a better pediatrician to help us out with his diet, and maybe figure out more of whats going on... but for now we are happy, that he seems a little more happy, and he is eating better.
Harry has about two more months left in the Early Intervention Program, before he STARTS SCHOOL.
It is so hard for me to believe he is starting school.  He seems much too young to me.  I am more nervous than I ever was when Clark was starting school, but I know Harry needs it a hundred times more too.  His therapy sessions have been going well.  It is so nice to have people to help me out with Harry, and give me ideas on ways to help and teach him.  He doesn't say any words yet, but he is so so close to signing, and I really believe if he wasn't so stubborn he might be a little closer :)  After six months he has also, finally, started enjoying his sessions a little more, which makes the learning process that much easier, I think.  Also, GREAT NEWS, we finally got approved for a new program that will help us pay for ABA therapy.  All I have to do now is start interviewing people and we will be ready to go.  I really believe that this is going to be so good for Harry, and I am so excited to start.

The other day I was talking to one of his new case managers (for the Echo program) and she asked me what my hopes and goals for Harry were.  And for some reason I was totally stumped.  I am sure she meant short term, over the next year or something...but I didn't know what to say.  Goals??  There are a million things I wish he could and would do, same goes for Clark.... and Jason too. 
Sure, it would be awesome if he could eat with a fork, or sit for longer than 3 minutes (currently one of his goals in sitting for 3 minutes to participate in a group activity, hahaha, he can maybe last maybe 90 seconds).  I would love it if he didn't bang his head on the floor, or smack his head every time he was upset.  I would be thrilled beyond all reason if he slept for longer than five hours every night, and didn't get up at 3 am every morning.  I knew she meant something small like that, something that she could track and document, but for some reason I couldn't think of one single thing.
 How can I narrow down all the things I want for Harry to just a simple answer like that? 
My hopes for Harry are so much more.  I hope he feels safe and secure.  That he can find something he can, and wants to do.  I hope that he will never feel limited by a diagnosis that he gets, or what other people tell him.  Selfishly, I hope his love for books continues to grow, I would to have a reading buddy to share all my books and thoughts with.  I want to be able to have a conversation with my son, whether is is talking, signing, or even writing... I want to know him, and what's going on in his head.  
My greatest hope for Harry is that he will be happy, truly happy.
And really isn't that what we all want for our kids. 
I am so thankful that he was sent to our family.  As challenging as his personality can be, the tantrums, and the staying up all night long, I couldn't imagine my life without him... nor would I ever want to.  
I pray everyday that I can be the mother that he needs.  

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