It was several months ago, and Baby Bee was reaching toward me, nearly shrieking with delight. I reflected his enthusiasm, adding a helping of my own excitement.
"That's right Baby Bee, I'm MAMA!" I pointed at myself, expanding on his gesture. "Mama!"
You wait for this moment as a parent. You wait and hope and when it doesn't come you are grateful for the other things--like words or communication at all. You learn that kids on the spectrum or with language delays often have some unusual first words. He'd mastered GOAT and DATE as in, "Let's go on a date" or "What's the date today?" But I was still waiting to hear him to refer to me as anything besides "milk." Adding Mama as his fourth word felt exhilarating.
"That's right, Mama!"
Baby Bee was no longer delighted. His face scrunched, preparing for his hallmark scream of frustration. He reached toward me again emphasizing the first syllable. "ahhhhh-ma."
He was still reaching so I figured he wanted picked up.
(I have the bite marks to prove it.)
I heard a noise outside and reflectively glanced over my shoulder toward the window. In our house, we hear noises, talk about noises, and search out their source. Then we talk about them some more.
But I didn't make it past a first glance. Instead, something on the window sill caught my eye.
Llama, llama who's your Mama?
Yep. That's right.
*Technically this IS an alpaca. We know this. But somehow we got into a habit of calling it a llama and we just couldn't stop.
When you have a child with special needs, you have lots of decisions to make that you never planned on making. We've struggled with knowing which therapy interventions to choose and which to pass over. Especially ABA, one of the most common treatments for people with autism. In our family, we have strong values about what it means to be a whole, authentic person and how we should treat one another. We have Brene Brown's parenting manifesto hanging on the wall of Baby Bee's room. We strive to be gentle, child-led parents, who practice emotion coaching and regularly engage in our floor time therapies. We try to say "yes" more than we say "no", and save our "no's" for when it really matters or when it doesn't matter at all, but we have a really strong personal preference. We let Baby Bee eat re-fried beans off of two plastic horses rather than spoons, because, well, what do I care if that's what he needs to do every. single. time. he eats re-fried beans? At least he eats them.
So when it comes to choosing a therapy that is different than our family's usual approach, we've had to do a lot of reflecting.