Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Director of Awesome

I've been in a deep funk lately. I have about 15 partial posts written, saved and ready to be finished and posted. But I get distracted - sometimes by Elijah and sometimes I just have to keep writing the posts that keep popping in my head before finishing another. Mostly it's hard to post about the harder things and when you're in a funk you're going to be writing about the harder things. It feels like ripping my chest open and saying to the world, "Okay, here's my insides everybody. Take your best stab." I want to share it, though, and I will in my due time.

But not today. Today, I'm going to talk once again about how awesome our little man is. Because he is awesome.

In order to fully understand why today's events were so awesome, I think I need to give some background info. Awhile ago, I wrote one of those 'ripping open my chest' posts about Elijah's difficulty communicating and my frustration. And at the end of the post I mentioned a short seminar I went to given by Teri Kaminski-Peterson, author of The Big Book of Exclamations. She talked a lot about the pre-symbolic stage of development and a lot of the stuff she said has stuck with me. In my own way and the best I know how, I've been trying to teach Elijah some of the things I learned that night.

You see, words (and gestures) are symbols...they are a representation of something else. Before we start to talk when we're wee ones (yep, I just said wee ones), we have all sorts of precursors to speech that need to occur first. To my delight, Elijah has a lot of the precursors to speech. For example, he has some reciprocal interaction. If you tickle him, he might laugh, run away, and then come back for more. In his own way, he's asking for you to tickle him again, reciprocating. Sometimes, he will imitate you (another precursor to speech). That night I listened to Ms. Kaminski-Peterson's talk, I realized that the ares of communication Elijah struggles with the most are directly related to his vision.

One thing babies do before they ever utter a word is to direct your attention to something. Babies will see something they want, get your attention perhaps by babbling, and then they will point at the thing they want. They direct you towards their desired object. I wondered how Elijah would be able do that. How can he direct our attention to something if he can't even see it?

I started thinking of ways to teach him how to direct me. He loves his Elmo toy and we put it on the counter out of his reach. He'd whine for his toy, I'd grab his hand, walk him over to where I was standing and model what I wanted him to do. I'd take his hands and pretend to have him pull on my pant leg while saying, "Mama mama." And then I'd respond to myself "What do you want Elijah?"while grabbing his hand. I'd walk him over to Elmo, placing Elijah's hands on the counter. "Oh, you want Elmo! I can turn him on for you." And repeat this scenario over and over and over. Yes, it's kind of awkward having a conversation with myself, but I was teaching him how he could direct my attention.

Are you still with me? We're getting to the good part.

Lately, Elijah has been reaching up to Andy and me to be picked up. It's the sweetest thing ever. He never used to do that and we've been enjoying the hugs he gives. Today, Elijah was reaching on my leg. I was about to pick him up when and a light bulb went off. This is what I've been trying to teach him. Maybe he doesn't want to be picked up, maybe he's trying to tell me something. So I grabbed his little hand and asked him, "What do you want Elijah?" To my surprise, he started to walk through our kitchen. "Where are we going Elijah?" Elijah walked me into our family room and laid down on the floor. Can you hear the shouts of joy and amazement?! No? Well, we change Elijah's diaper in our family room. He wanted to have his dirty diaper changed! He communicated his desire to have his diaper changed. Um, if you're not with me yet, that's HUGE for a multitude of reasons. He knew that he needed a diaper change for one thing (which is kind of important for potty training) and he told me about it by getting me and bringing me to where he gets changed. He directed my attention to a need of his. Now do you hear the shouts of joy?

And later, Elijah directed my attention to Elmo by clawing at my leg and walking me to his toy. Two times in one day; it's not a fluke. He's getting it. And yes, he is awesome. Not that you didn't already know that.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lisa, you are also so awesome. You are an awesome mother and meant to be Elijah's. Almost everytime I read your posts I get some sort of emotion. You are amazing and I just want you to know that you are allowed to be in a funk now and again. Love you muches - We really should come see you soon !!!

Kathy Lausted said...

Wow! The emotions well up in me....Elijah, how fantastic! Someday, you will be reading this blog in the form of a book. Elijah, you will read about your life - maybe with some help but you will see the various things you have overcome - with God's help AND your parent's help. Keep up the good work, Wagners! Love, MomKat, GrammaKat

rc45 said...

Lisa,
What you said on this post is so true. Children do use gestures or motion when they are wee ones,before they can talk. With Elijah is is tremendous that he is showing you what he is thinking or wants. You are truly an awesome mother. Keep up the good mothering. It is paying off!

Janet said...

Wow! He really is communicating! I "got" your post 100%. This is huge! Good for you for realizing that your techniques were working. I am going to borrow your tactic modeling the behavior we want to see. Our little ones are very similar and its so important to remember how vision plays into everything. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How amazingly inspiring! I'm so sorry you're in a funk, but thankful God is showing you plainly the fruits of your diligence and love. Keep on going, Lisa! You're doing amazing work and God is obviously with you!

Love,
Mandie

Anonymous said...

As I told you privately Lisa, you and Elijah inspire others in so many ways. You just keep on doing and keep the faith. One day...

Hanners said...

Keep up the awesome work! You three are an inspiration to many.

Kristine said...

That's amazing!!! So happy for you. I have been reading for a while, but this is my first comment.

I have a little girl (Katie is 2) who has a brain injury from contracting Group B Strep Meningitis at 18 days old. She is doing quite well, although she is developmentally behind for sure. I share your worries and day-to-day stress.

It's so nice to be able to read a blog that I can relate to in so many ways. Thanks for sharing!!

therextras said...

Read this post and my comment -
http://drycappucino.blogspot.com/2010/02/learning-to-talk.html

That's all I have time for now - sorry! Barbara

Candace said...

Way to go Elijah! I know how excited you are. YOU HAVE to get video! That is some great news!

Erika said...

That is so great! This made my day! :)

Anonymous said...

Lisa:

I still look for your entrys every day. You are an amazing mom! Your post brought tears to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

Hey Elijah, you're an awesome little guy! Lisa, you're an amazing mom and there is nothing wrong with being in a funk.

Randi said...

Lisa that is so wonderful - that he is starting to do some form of communication - I wish so much for the desire to be hugged and to be snuggled with Brextin - I love the photo of him with the radio - how adorable!

Lisa said...

Hey everybody, THIS is why I blog. Because you have all lifted me up, because I'm no longer in a funk, because you all celebrate Elijah's accomplishments with us, because you hold us up in prayers, because, well, because. Thank you! Love to each of you.

Oh, and I wanted to mention that Elijah directed my attention again today! I'm almost reluctant to get excited about things at times because Elijah will do something and then we won't see it again for a long time. Today he wanted his trike, I modeled what I wanted him to do...and a couple minutes later he scratches at my leg and directs me to the trike. Success!

Teri said...

Hi Lisa...what a wonderful blog! I am pleased to hear you left my workshop with some new information and hope! Thank you for sharing your information with others. I noticed the link to my site is broken so if time would ever permit, the new link is
http://thebigbookofexclamations.com/ Thank you again Lisa and remember, God never gives up more than we can handle!

Be Well
Teri K Peterson M.S.CCC/SLP

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