Creating a New Normal, Everyday – Diary of a Baba
Posted on December 16, 2017
At our date day last weekend, mychi and I reflected on how far we’ve come. From Collin being non verbal to now telling imaginative stories, we have seen him grow and transform.
How did this look before? For example, after 6 month of therapy he was still not very verbal but making great progress. He started with about 3 requests (otherwise known as “mands” after mandates) an hour, like “Baba, I want this!” or “Help me, baba.” Within 6 months, he got to 10 requests an hour, which was such a major improvement! Then we find out that most neurotypical children of 2.5 years have 120 requests or mands an hour (!!). Whoa. They make about 2 requests a second, basically constantly talking and making requests.
Collin also used to play by himself for hours, which was nice for us sometimes but also it perpetuated his isolation. He could stim for hours with his cars and trucks. Honestly, this let us get some work done while he was playing by himself.
The other day, I was on my computer working on this blog, actually. Within minutes, he came up to me and asked me to play with him. So I went to play with him and then went back to my computer. Then he yelled again, “baba, I need you!” It took me a few rounds to realize that he wanted social interaction and not just for me to complete a task for him!
“Then he yelled again, “baba, I need you!” It took me a few rounds to realize that he WANTED social interaction and not just for me to complete a task for him!”
As slight as this is, it is a major breakthrough for us, a new normal. He used to just want me to do something for him, like “Baba, can you make me a lego car.” “Baba, please get that for me.” Now he wants to play with others and craves social interaction. More than ever, we have to be more present and intentional on how to entertain our child! It is actually a privilege to have these issues.
This didn’t just happen overnight and or because we were “great” parents. We are constantly learning to ask for and to receive help. We’ve been learning to break out of our isolation (some shame) to reach out to our community.
We have an amazing team including: his therapists who supports Collin and provides us with parent coaching; his preschool (Props to Beatie Street!), the teachers, parents and his classmates; our friends and family; the organizations we are part of.
And I’ve said this many times. EVERYONE deserves to be their best self. Everyone deserves the support appropriate to their needs. Every child should have some kind of buddy and a therapist, who is supporting their development at an early age. And EVERY parent needs coaching and training. These should be a public service provided to everyone.
Some call this a leftcoast, pie in the sky, “Bay Area thing,” or even socialist. It dosesn’t actually matter to me what you call it, I just know that in today’s society we are more and more alienated from each other and have become more individualistic. Individualism runs deep on our movement and society and this is exact what holds us back from working collectively and ultimately our liberation.
“For me, for us, it is a daily practice to keep creating this new normal. Learning to break out of this isolation to build a collective practice.”
For me, for us, it is a daily practice to keep creating this new normal. Learning to break out of this isolation to build a collective practice. Collin is now talking A LOT but we don’t have the luxury to stop or be static. It doesn’t always feel natural to speak up for Collin and our needs but, in time, we will have created a community that can embrace him for all that he brings. Imagine if we could all do that for each other. That is the new normal I want to keep building.
Video clip of Collin at the AHS holiday party. At first, he was hesitant to join the fun but I gave him a little time. He is running around the stage with a number of other children. It’s is a bit hectic. He comes up to the camera mid way smiling and making eye contact.