My little girl finishes Primary 1 at mainstream primary school this week. Oh, and it’s also the week she turns 7.
If someone had told me 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 years ago that Tilly still wouldn’t be able to talk at age 7, I would have broken down in tears. I would be scared for our future, incredibly sad that her development had remained stagnant. I would expect to be in a state of depression and feeling very negative about my child’s future.
But, do you know something, I’m kinda OK with it. Don’t get me wrong…if I was granted one wish, it would be to hear her sweet little voice speak a word or 2 (“I love you, Mummy” would be bloody amazing to hear) and for her to learn in the same way as neuro-typical children. I have down days and those frustrated and tiresome days where she’s not happy and I have no idea why. But there are so many other things she is able to do now that I am incredibly happy about. Watching her grow and develop over the last year has taught me to focus on the positives. Indeed, acknowledge the negatives (even wallow in them for a while if it feels good), but shake them off and get back on our journey into the future with the same determination and courage that she shows every day.
I mean, seriously, what she has achieved in the last year is amazing. She doesn’t speak a word, doesn’t understand anywhere near as many words as she should, has significant learning difficulties and trouble processing sensory input. But she has embraced school in a way none of us ever expected. She has been able to learn and follow the routine quickly; she loves the hustle and bustle of school; she watches and plays with the other kids at playtime; she participates in many of the activities her classmates do; she eats well (in fact so well that more often than not, her lunch/snack bag comes out completely empty, and she’s also had a good stab at eating any extra’s her support teachers have offered her!). This time last year, these were all the areas I was worried about – but I had no reason to be. She is a little superstar and I’m so very, very proud of her.
So, now we’re going to enjoy spending time together during the summer holidays then we’ll look forward to Primary 2. As she’s surprised us all so much in Primary 1, our plan is to push her a little more next year. She probably won’t like it at first but I’m pretty sure she’ll come round to the idea. She’s become quite a feisty and determined little lady, and I sincerely hope that continues because watching her personality emerge is as wonderful as watching her grow taller, bigger, stronger – and more beautiful – each day.