What does real growth look like? When we talk about our own children, do we measure growth quantitatively or do we measure growth more subjectively? As a teacher, I’m taught to gather diagnostic data to preassess students, then teach a skill, and then I conduct a post-assessment to measure growth, but when we talk about social growth or behavioral growth, especially of our own children, the objectivity and subjectivity start to blend into each other. What one person deems acceptable may not be acceptable to another person. One person might give more chances than another. But at some point, you look at a child, and you can’t deny when something remarkable has happened–you cannot deny the growth.
After a few really rough weeks, I think we may finally see real growth happening with Squeaker. We’ve decreased his medications quite a bit, started giving him probiotics in yogurt every night, and removed corn from his diet. The school has put him on a sensory plan to help him with his energy level (both the peaks and the lows). The biggest thing we’ve seen is that he no longer exhibits aggressive behaviors at school. Not only that, but he had frequent episodes of going under the desk and barking before this time period, and that behavior has ceased. He has stopped exhibiting the hugely disruptive behaviors that required his removal from the classroom prior to now.
In addition, he has begun self-correcting his behaviors at school. His teacher reported that as he galloped to the bathroom one day this week, he stopped himself, said something like, “Do it again,” and then walked back to where he had begun and walked to the restroom. This took some self-reflection on his part to realize mid-act that he had been galloping, stop, and then fix his own behavior.
At home, he’s no longer wearing a pull-up to bed and he’s waking up dry. We don’t have to change his sheets or wipe him or anything. He’s dry. That means he’s absolutely 100% potty-trained now. We just told him that once the pull-ups ran out, we didn’t plan to buy anymore, he counted down as they ran out, and then we were done with them. That was it. And he hasn’t had a single accident. I wish we had done it a while ago, but maybe he’s just ready now. I don’t know. Either way, it’s done. No more pull-ups!
Even more impressively, my son volunteered to help a student during class one day. When a student in class asked to have a word problem read aloud to her, he stood up, walked over to her, and told her he would help without any prompting from an adult. For him to volunteer to read something to someone else means he has gained some confidence in his reading, which means a lot. I’m more proud of him for offering to help that girl than I am for anything else, honestly. His kind, gentle, helpful spirit makes him who he is, and that he felt confident enough to reach out and help someone during class feels awesome.
We’ve done so much in the past couple weeks, it’s hard to say what has led to his transformation. Is this all the result of decreasing the medication, changing his diet, the school implementing the sensory plan, or all of the above? It’s likely a combination of everything. I saw something switch on inside of him at first when we took away one medication and then another. The aggression started to die down, and then die down more when we gave him the probiotics. When we changed his diet, I think that calmed him even more. We still have some work to do–he has yet to learn to work independently and still frustrates easily, but we’ll have to see what comes of the lab work and what plan the doctor comes up with after that. We’ll likely add supplements to his diet depending on what he’s deficient in.
I’d like to say that we do see progress, though. We did have a downward spiral for a bit, but he’s picking things back up again. Now I just wait with bated breath to hear what the results of that horrible mClass test that they took this week will tell us about his Math and Reading progress, as I know full well that he does not test well under the parameters set by the people who made those tests. In truth, I think we have progress where it matters…and where it will pay off in the end. We cannot measure that progress through standardized means, but we know it exists. We see it in his everyday acts of kindness. We see it every time he does something we tell him to do without throwing a tantrum. We see it when he brings home a positive report from school. And most of all, we see it in his smile.
[ctt tweet=”Sometimes real #growth looks different for different children. It’s still real. @embracespectrum http://ctt.ec/nyVHb+ #progress #autism ” coverup=”nyVHb”]
How do you measure growth in your child? What does real growth look like to you?