There’s nothing cuter than 3 year old little girls wearing leotards attempting ballet poses. Aislynn gave ballet a try this week with much enthusiasm. After a full week of talking about going to ballet class, followed by “practicing” for ballet class, the actual day of ballet class finally arrived. Fully decked out in ballet apparel a full 3 hours before class, Aislynn anxiously waited for 2:30PM to arrive (our scheduled departure time). When 2:30PM finally rolled around, she commented, “This is going to be GREAT mom!” On the drive over, I actually started to feel a little nervous, hoping this little 30 min ballet class would meet my little “ballerina-to-be’s” enthusiastic expectations.
We walked into the tiny ballet studio and met Mrs. H. “HELLO BALLET TEACHER!” Aislynn excitedly proclaimed. I am convinced Aislynn might actually be the most enthusiastic student to greet Mrs H. in her 39+ years teaching ballet. Mrs H. found some tap shoes for a grinning Aislynn to try on while waiting for the other students to arrive. 5 minutes later, 3 little girls decked out in leotards, ballet skirts, and hair bows walked into the room, immediately greeted by the newest and happiest addition to their class. Aislynn was actually entering the ballet classes 2 classes into the session and took it upon herself to make up some lost time with her fellow ballerinas. “Hi girls!” She announced vigorously waving as she approached the small cluster, “It's time for our ballet class! My name is Aislynn Rae Fuller,” then turning to me she asked, “What are all the girl’s names?” Her fellow classmates actually looked a bit surprised. I think they too, had never met such an enthusiastic little girl. I turned to the moms and said, “As you can see, she is very excited to be here.” They all smiled.
Finally the moment arrived. The tiny class of tiny ballerinas was under way. They started with a variety of body movements and marching with little tap shoes. Next, ballet shoes, some attempted leaping across the room, ballet bar, tumbling and rolling on a mat, and of course stretching. Mrs. H’s clear expertise showed, as she spent just the right amount of time on ever step to keep the girls attention. It was a jam packed 3o mins. filled with new things, unpredictables, music, concentration, interaction, and of course fun.
For me this sweet, simple 30 min ballet class represented a milestone. All the components of this day-the new faces, friends, activities, sounds, unknowns-that made it so joyous for my little life lover, would have sent her into a tailspin 1.5 years ago. Today as I attempted to tidy up and go through boxes on a search for my missing wedding ring (we’ll save that story for another day, hopefully when I am sharing how I found my missing ring), I came across a large blue binder titled, “Aislynn’s therapy notebook.” Flipping through the dense book evoked mixed emotions: Gratefulness and thankfulness realizing where we are at and how far we have come; anxiety and fear, remembering such an unpredictable and difficult time.
I remembered weeks filled with 4-5 various therapy sessions a week while caring for a very cranky, fussy baby Isla (see left, Andy working his magic on high maintenance baby Isla). I remembered exhausted, sleepless nights getting up with a newborn, wrestling with a possible autism diagnosis, and dreaming about activities I could do with Aislynn to help with her various delays. I reflected on the chaos of fear, while trying to find peace with what the future might hold. I actually felt my heart rate accelerate as I flipped open the book to the section entitled “evaluations.” I pulled out a report entitled “Initial speech language pathology report, 12/14/07.” At that time my now 3.5 year old socialite and enthusiastic lover of life, was a very different little girl.
At the time of this initial speech evaluation, Aislynn was 26 months old (see right, Aislynn 26 months playing in 10lbs of rice = sensory activity time). You can read a condensed version of Aislynn’s developmental journey here. I skimmed the report flipping to the “stats” on the last page and Aislynn’s delays laid out plainly in percentages according to the Rossetti Infant Toddler Language Scale: Pragmatics 35% delay, Gesture 23% delay, play 35% delay, language comprehension 15% delay, language expression 12% delay. This evaluation only dealt with language and socialization. We also had issues in the area of nutrition, feeding, sensory, and occupational therapy.
At that point in time-where I am standing right now-was nowhere close to being a reality, only a hope and a dream. Back then, it was in my moments of optimism, hope, faith, belief, and pleading with God that I saw glimpses of playdates instead of solitary play, joyful greetings instead of tantrums and refusing to say hello to others, and conversations laughing and talking instead of scripted and literal speech. It was in my most hopeful times that I dreamed someday my little girl might go to ballet class with other little girls and laugh, smile, and pose. Answers.com defines hope, “to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment.” Today I am fulfilled.