Thursday, January 13, 2011


I got introduced to a new word the other day over at Special Needs Disability Parenting: BLOOM. The author was reflecting on how daunting the typical "milestones" can seem, when they feel so few and far between for our kiddos (and typically-developing kids are just galloping along.) She spoke of giving due celebration instead to the advances that would to others seem small. The baby-steps, the inchstones.

We've had some very nice inchstones with Joy lately.

Schoolwork is paying off! It's rather a new phenomenon for Joy to suddenly show us something that we haven't been working on at home and weren't particularly tracking with from school. Recent example: Joy has been excited to play catch at home lately, with a soft inflated kick-ball-size ball. All of a sudden, we started seeing her do occasional two-handed throws over her head, something we'd not taught her. "Oh, we learn that in gym!" cried Rose. And sure enough, Joy had been working on it both in gym and with her one-on-one staffers.

Another was when we went to the library earlier this week and encountered a chunky wooden bead-stringing set that went with Eric Carle's classic book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There was a wooden butterfly attached to the far end of the string, and the "needle" was the caterpillar, and all the foods that the caterpillar ate were the beads to string. Joy knew exactly what to do, even though the "needle" was a long rectangle and had to be inserted just-so, and we hadn't done beads at home for a quite a while. But she's got a bead-stringing task-box at school!

Another delightful set of inchstones stareted with the Christmas tree and stockings and cards that she left unmolested this year. Right behind her dining chair, those cards are. Easy reach, and stimmy-favorite material. And yet she hasn't pulled down a single one.

Christmas Card Display
The tree as well, she only made a very few grabs for it this year, even though she was easily tall enough to take it down with one good pull had she chosen to do so.

Christmas tree 2009
Emboldened by our success with the tree, I tried something new when we took the tree down. I replaced it with a plant that's been exiled to the back bedroom (now Rose's room) for years. I can't even remember when we pulled the last plant out of our common living area for Joy-proofing purposes. Long, long since.

The Plant
The plant has now stood in place of the tree for a week and a half. We had to warn Joy away a couple of times, but she has mostly let it be.

This plant is a survivor, and not just of Joy-depredations. We rescued it from JoyDad's mother's condo after her passing in 1998. A number of weeks had gone by between the funeral and the final housecleaning, and the soil in the plant's little six-inch pot was bone-dry. We didn't really expect the plant to survive even the trip home from Chicago, let alone the long run.

Not only is it still going strong, it's some inches taller than Joy now.

We reckon that Grandma P would approve, and is somehow celebrating the inchstones right along with us.


Floortime Lite Mama said...

love love love the idea of the inchstones
amazed at how well joy is doing

JoyDad said...

If that plant grows much more, it'll be taller than Mom was... ;-)

Lynn said...

Those are awesome inchstones. The Christmas ones are the easiest to pick out because it only comes along once a year. Audrey didn't smash a Christmas ornament onto the hardwood this year. And she actually like unwrapping presents. Still can't throw the ball like your kid though.

JoyMama said...

K - Thanks! The good stuff is... good stuff. I'm cogitating a post about the other side of the coin -- it's not all roses and gumdrops around here, but I sure do like to celebrate the positive stories.

JoyDad - Five. Feet. Tall. (Hugs)

JoyMama said...

Lynn - no smashed ornaments definitely sounds like a step in the right direction! We had happy present-unwrapping here too, though the sensation was the attraction rather than the surprise of the contents. In yet another gift-wrap twist, I had a conversation the other night with a local guy whose daughter on the spectrum had liked opening the presents this year, but HATED discovering the surprise contents because it didn't ever match with what she had quietly decided each box should contain. I suggested a photo of the contents posted on the outside -- only half in jest!

AuntieS said...

I am sure that she is celebrating those inchstones. Mom definitely liked to brag about her grandkids, so I know she's telling everyone about the good news. She also is listening and noticing when things aren't all so rosy and she's still proud of Joy and Rose and all of my kids.
I had forgotten about her plant. Wow!! Mom was not so good at indoor gardening, so I'm sure she's very amazed at what you've done with her plant.
As for Joy, it's great that she is making progress with school.
Yay all the way around!!

tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

Beaming with happiness for you guys!! Go Joy!

Anonymous said...

Those inchstones add up to yards of a great life!

I hold close a provenance on my plants, too. Especially two that were gifts of sympathy at my father's funeral 10 years ago.

Success in school is also a pay-off from all that came before, too, eh?

Bethany said...

Those inchstones provide a reason to celebrate not just the traditional huge milestones but all of the hard work that goes into accomplishing them!! I loved that aspect of teaching special education - there was something every single day to celebrate in our classroom!! Joy is taking great steps and her progress with school and carrying skills from school to another environment are awesome!! So are the undisturbed Christmas tree and cards, and the memory plant!! Way to go Joy!!!

JoyMama said...

AuntieS - if GrandmaP were still on this earth, we'd surely have lots more video of the girls than we do now! :-)

rainbowmummy - thanks!

TherExtras - I try not to get too wrapped up in symbolic plants - if something untoward happens with the plant, it's hard to let go of the negative symbolism! - but I obviously do hold on to the stories. Another arena for finding balance.

Bethany - what a great perspective on special ed teaching and celebrations!

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg said...

Inchstones...what a wonderful image. I believe that in every life, there's something to celebrate. Sometimes, the challenge is just finding the right words!

Anonymous said...

like joy, rhema did not molest (loved your word there) the Christmas decorations this year. we were pleasantly surprised!

i'm always encouraged by the Joy-inchstones you share. i celebrate with you.

autismand said...

As soon as I started to think about 'inchstones' I could think of lots of things BB's done recently, things I might not even have noticed if I hadn't been consciously looking just for little things. I'm all in favour of any way of thinking that makes positivity so easy.

Liz Coyne said...

Oooooh, thank you for the new word, "inchstone" love it. We all learn from all sorts of places. Congrats Joy and JoyFamily!

Professor Mother said...

I am SO using this word! Thanks for sharing it!

And it's hard enough growing my own kids- growing plants is just one more thing that I crossed off of my "what I like to do" list.

JoyMama said...

Rachel and rhemashope -- thank you for the co-celebration-ing!

bbsmum -- making positivity easy. Yes.

Liz and Professor Mother -- so glad that the "inchstone" word resonates!