Wow! It is amazing how much writing about Elliot's diagnosis with NLD has helped me to restore my optimism. I woke up yesterday morning able to take a deep breath. The tight restriction in my chest is gone, and I am once again able to visualise Elliot's future. I know it will be a bright one! Thank you to everyone for your encouraging words, your support and your love. I was truly amazed by how many of my friends are going through or have had similar experiences with their own children, and your stories have given me hope and have helped me to feel less alone. Thank you!
So, what is next.
Well, first off, I have to finish reading all of these books, plus a few that are still on their way.
Second, I have to make more time to play with this stuff:
There is nothing more satisfying to me, outside of writing of course, like playing with fabric and creating something from it. It gives me such a high!! And as I have quickly learned over the past three weeks, I have to take time to do those things that bring me joy to prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed with all the demands in my life and to ensure that I am the best "me" possible so that I can continue to take care of my family.
Third, I have to ensure that the Wee Websters get LOTS of play time!
And the dirtier the better . . . tee hee!
Play is a huge de-stresser for kids. It helps them to make sense of the world around them, to release anxiety, and to develop within them imagination and creativity. Often times, children with NLD find "play" difficult but, thankfully, Elliot does not, and I contribute this to him being sandwiched between siblings who are Playmobil and Lego crazy and have always had elaborate worlds made up downstairs in the playroom where they can pop in and out of the land of make-believe.
Fourth, I have to stop beating myself up and focus on what I have done right for Elliot. He is doing remarkable, and we have unknowingly taught him those things that are typically difficult for people with NLD. For instance, this year the boys and I have done a lot of work in homonyms, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. This has opened the door to many discussions about how a lot of words have double meanings, which leads to things like irony and sarcasm, two difficult concepts for the black and white, NLD thinker. But Elliot gets it!! Last night, the boys and I were watching National Treasure 2, and one of the characters said something sarcastically, to which Elliot responded: "Ahh, nice use of sarcasm!". Now, I realise that I do have to teach him that people typically just laugh at these moments rather than pointing them out, but this is a huge development for him, and it is one we taught him unconsciously. Up until last week, I did not even know that sarcasm was something he would struggle with!
Fifth, we have to pick out one key area of concern to work on with Elliot. I have read two books so far and they each suggest that for kids with NLD, less is more. You will overwhelm yourself and them if you try to teach everything at once. With Dr. Murphy's guidance, we have chosen to help Elliot deal with his anxiety because anxiety is probably one of the most debilitating factors of this syndrome. It causes depression and hinders people from learning. Thankfully, one of the books I read suggested a book titled "The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience". I ordered it last week and it should be here any day now. The nice thing about this program is that all of our kids will benefit from it so we are going to work on it as a family. I think the less we focus on what is wrong with Elliot and the more we focus on what we as a family can learn from his unique perspective, the better off we will be!
And there you have it, my game plan! It won't be perfect, and I know we are headed down one rocky road with many bumps and obstacles, but really, life is not about perfection. It is all about the adventure, and thank heavens, we love nothing more than a grand adventure here at Shenanigans Inc.