Three years ago I wrote this post about Diego's progress. He was four years old back then. Very soon our boy is going to turn seven. It's amazing how fast time flies. Diego has gone through an amazing transformation in the last few years. His progress has gone way beyond our expectations. He's a boy full of personality and ideas and great energy. There is still a long way to go but I have no doubts that his future will be a bright one.
To all the parents with recently diagnosed Autistic children out there here is a little message: be patient, be positive and get as much help as possible. But most of all, be patient. Great things will happen little by little.
Here is a list of things that Diego can do now.
1. Now he can make his own jokes. Before he couldn't understand humor.
2. He plays creatively and invents clever words. The other day he put together a pair of scissors and a miniature plastic sword that I have in my studio then he said: Look Mom! My super instrument! It's called a A SCISS-SWORD!
3. When someone gets physically hurt he spontaneously says: ARE YOU OK?! Before, he didn't care much about other people's feelings.
4. From not having language he now doesn't know how to stop talking. Diego has a lot to say now, all the time.
5. He likes to create stories and illustrate them as well. He has a huge imagination.
6. Sometimes he writes notes to me, mainly to apologize for something that he did wrong. Here is what he wrote the other day when I was about to lose my patience: Mom, I am sorry for driving you crazy. Sincerely. What a woman!
7. Whenever he does something wrong he says: I am so sorry.
8. Even though he still does a little bit of scripting (repeating sentences taken from movies, books etc.) most of the times his speech is coherent and it makes sense.
9. He is much better at expressing his feelings.
10. He knows what he wants most of the times so he asks for it in a proper manner.
11. He's much better at transitioning from one activity to another.
12. He has a lot more eye contact than before, with new people and people that he already knows.
13. He initiates games with Natalie. Before, he never, ever, started any game.
14. He is much better at following directions.
15. His fine motor skills are so much better now. Diego can build complicated things with blocks and other objects.
16. His reading/comprehension skills are now ahead of his age. Diego reads for personal pleasure at night and he also likes Bill and I to read stories to him often.
18. He had his first "official" play date recently. It was an invitation from a boy that goes to social skills therapy with him. This boy invited Diego and another boy to his house. Under the boy's grandma's supervision they played, watched a movie and ate pizza.
19. He recently told me that one day, when he grows up, he wants to drive a car.
20. Some of the professions that he's interested in so far are: artist, comedian, astronaut, inventor, chef and ice cream seller.
Diego is such a great teacher to me. I have learned more from him in the last few years than from all the books that I have read in my life. Here is the main lesson that I have learned from him:
1. Be happy being exactly who you are.
Diego loves being Diego from the time he wakes up to the time when he goes to bed. He often says: I love my life. That doesn't mean that his life is easy at all, the opposite. He has to work harder than most children. He has to deal with frustrations more often than most children. But his energy is always focused on the brighter side of the street.