but, she's a tremendous achiever. she achieves nearly every day. not unlike a typical child, actually.
i am learning that all kids at this age grow, absorb, learn, and practice new skills on a daily - even hourly - basis. it has been a real revelation for me to realize this. it's like watching a flower slowly unfold, one lovely petal at a time - each petal its own study in beauty. each petal it's own achievement.
since emma is an only child, we make a conscious effort to expose her as often as possible to other kids - typical and special needs alike - on a fairly constant basis so she can learn not only alongside them, but also from them. so, each week, emma now goes to Gymboree Play and Music, attends a class at Imagination Stage, and visits the local children's library (which is a real gem- founded in 1893 and one of only three public libraries in the country established just for children). and, she gets to engage with new friends and family members as often as possible.
when she does so, emma observes. she studies. she watches intently. she even stares, sometimes.
she absorbs it all. learning from her peers. watching them walk and talk and run and play.
and, she practices constantly, now starting to mimick much of what she observes others doing. but, as i've written before, emma's physiology sometimes fails her, belying her cognitive abilities. because she understands. she gets it. and she wants it. she wants to talk. to walk. to sit in her own chair without falling forward. she wants to stand on her own without needing support. but, she isn't there just yet.
so, we keep providing opportunities to study, observe, learn; emma keeps observing; and together with our assistance and that of her physical and occupational therapists, emma practices hard. she's now standing on her own, while leaning on something. she can stand up and sit down and climb stairs. she can cruise alongside the sofa on her own. with assistance, she takes a few steps forward. and, she talks all the time. we're working with a speech therapist to finess those natural skills. in the meantime, emma is a communicative rock star, telling us what she needs when she needs it with sign language. she has demonstrated an understanding of a fairly large vocabulary, which grows weekly.
and, i am very very very proud to report another huge achievement.
our little apple cheeks is now drinking out of her own cup.
as many of you have read in several of my blog posts, we've been working really hard to encourage emma to move beyond the bottle (not there yet) and onto drinking out of a cup. but, she's had a tough time lifting a cup on her own. and, because her lip closure and suck/swallow mechanisms are still weak, she hasn't been able to suck a drink out of a straw or sippy cup lip. working with a feeding specialist, we've tried various techniques to encourage her progress.
this past week, we employed a new strategy. we went back to the basics and we made several different sippy cups available to emma in the event she was thirsty or asked for a bottle. we had them scattered about her playroom and offered them to her when she asked for something to drink (aka: bottle of milk). most of the cups have been non-starters because they are too heavy for her to lift up to her mouth on her own or have difficult-to-maneuver straws or require too much force to extract the liquid. but, thanks to emma's grandmommy, we found one that worked (after her grandmommy had the smart idea to take out the plug in the sippy cup so the liquid now flows freely without requiring emma to suck it out).
and, in the past week or so, emma has nearly mastered it. she can hold it and drink out of it and pace her drinking and breathing so she doesn't choke on the water or milk she's drinking.
we have literally cried and cheered (sometimes at the same time) watching her pick up her cup and drink some liquid out of it. it's such a hard-earned achievement.
now, all we have to do is figure a way to discourage her strong penchant for pouring said liquid all over the floor when she's done!