Saturday, March 17, 2012

5-7 year mission preview, realized

I know that an update on this blog is more than overdue, but it took me awhile to look up the facts and find the time to do this story justice. Trust me, it was worth the wait!

In January 2006, back when J looked a lot more like this photo (he's on the left), I went to the RDI 4-day parent training. One of the exercises that Dr. Gutstein had us do was to create "mission previews" about how we anticipate RDI changing our lives in the short term (1-2 years from now), in the mid-term (5-7 years from now) and in the long-term (10-20 years from now). The idea was to realistically imagine a scene from our lives during those time frames and write down how our lives will have changed. We're talking minor things here, how our everyday life is going to be altered by RDI, not grandiose goals or technical statements. (You can read here a post about how my 1-2 year misson preview came true.)

Well, here we are 6 years later, and J looks more like this now.

And here's what my mission preview from 6 years ago looked like:

a scene 5 years from now:

phone rings:

voice: "Hi, this is John, can I talk to Jacob?"

I call Jacob in from the yard where he's playing baseball with his brother and a few friends. He yells "be right back!" as he comes running.

Jacob: "Hello?...Oh, hi John! You should come over, we're playing ball....Hey, Ma!!! Can John come over?"

me: "Ok, but we have to leave for Grandma's in a little while."

Jacob: "Yeah, come over now! We can play ball until I have to go to my Grandmother's birthday party."Jacob yells "Thanks, Ma!" as he runs back out the door.Sounds of laughter and fun from the yard.

This mission preview shows my 5-year vision of a "normalized" life, where we all will have moved beyond therapy being the central focus of our daily lives, and a 10 year old Jacob will have moved on to the important work of being a "just a kid" rather than a "kid with Autism".

So here's a real-life scene from this past summer, 5 1/2 years after I wrote the above wished-for scene. That's a 10 year old Jacob in the red shirt, playing catcher. Here's how this scene came about:

We were at the park with other homeschooing friends, enjoying a lovely late summer day. I was chatting with other moms, and two boys with gloves and a bat walked behind me.

One boy to the other: "Hey, ask Jacob, he'll play with us."

The other boy: "Jacob, wanna play ball?"

Jacob: "Baseball?! Sure, good deal!"

The boys run off to the ball field together, grabbing another couple of kids on the way.

Just to prove how much Autism is NOT a part of our daily lives anymore, I didn't recognize the scene right away. But several minutes later, I looked up to see my son playing ball with his friends and the significance of this scene and how it came about bowled me over. I burst into tears, and then had to explain, through sobs, to the bewildered moms I was talking to why I was suddenly an emotional wreck. "Well, take a picture!" one good friend hollered.

So I did.