Thursday, October 23, 2014

Out the Window

Trains would go through our town a few times each day.  You couldn’t miss them or the excitement they brought.  If we were going through town at the right time, my kids would get so excited to see a train.  All of the kids except Ronan. 

As we heard a train approach, Ronan's siblings would plant their faces on the window waiting in excitement.  They listened to the sound of the crossing bars as they went down.  They covered their ears anticipating the train’s whistle blowing.  They squealed when they saw the train as it chug chugged down the train track.  

From start to finish, it was all very exciting.  It was also very loud.  But Ronan showed no interest.  He ignored everything about the train.  With each passing train that Ronan ignored, my hope that he’d respond like his typical siblings responded went right out the window. 

Ronan ignored trains until around the age of four.  I remember the day he finally took notice.  I was so excited!  The first indicator that Ronan knew something different was happening was when he heard the ding, ding, dinging of the railroad crossing arm as it lowered.  Ronan glanced in the direction of where the sound was coming.  He looked for it and then stayed interested in it.  While staring toward the tracks, the very loud train that Ronan always ignored approached.  Ronan remained interested and cocked his head to the side.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  Ronan stared out the window and watched the entire train go by!

That incident happened soon after we’d just started some chiropractic adjustments with Ronan.  As with many new things, it took a while for Ronan to get comfortable with a new treatment.  He didn’t love them at first but would eventually climb on the table and wait to be adjusted.  I always liked that part of our visits because it seemed like Ronan knew that something about the treatment was going to help.

Help him they did.  Chiropractic adjustments made Ronan's body sort of wake up.  He wasn’t as sensory defensive.  He wasn’t toe walking as much.  He was less anxious and more relaxed.  He heard things a bit faster which meant he responded to things faster too. 

Ronan came out of his shell a little bit as he started to notice the world around him.  Some things, like that loud train, had been there all along, but previously, Ronan didn’t seem to care about it.  

Ronan began to notice more things both inside and outside.  He saw an airplane going over his head and pointed to it.  He finally went down the slide at the park instead of sitting in the sandbox flicking sand for an entire park visit.  Ronan also started to reach for toys and played with them instead of ignoring them.  

That ‘wake up’ was years ago.  Ronan’s gone through several other wake ups since then.  Sometimes they last for a good stretch of time and we discover a new skill that Ronan has accomplished.  But sometimes, as quickly as Ronan develops a burst of new skills, he'll go back to an activity that tends to isolate him.  Ronan isolated himself again this week.   

Even with the burst of new speech we celebrated earlier this week, Ronan went back to an old habit.  He pigeon holed himself into an activity that I thought he’d outgrown. 

Ronan’s gone back to watching some old videos that he’d previously walked away from.  He gets so fixated on these videos, repeating certain scenes over and over and over again.  I’ve tried to gently redirect Ronan, but I understand that old habits are comfortable habits.  Ronan's comfortable habits bring a sort of calm.  Calm brings peace.  Peace generates hope.  I’m all for being calm, for bringing a sense of peace and for generating hope.  I’m all for that because with this old habit of endless video playing another old habit returned as well.  Ronan started looking out the window again.

My daughter and I noticed that.  We also noticed something else—Ronan isn’t getting frustrated when we're in the car.  He isn't  demanding to watch a movie every second of the car ride either.  Ronan is content to look out the window.  To watch the scenery go by.  To look at the world, a world that's been there all along.  

Today, when I saw Ronan looking out the window, I wondered what he was thinking.  Is he seeing something for the first time, something that the rest of us have seen countless times already?  Is he able to finally tolerate a sound he heard outside, a sound that used to make him cringe?  Or is he just looking out the window, enjoying the drive, grateful to be able to take in the sights, the sounds and the company that surrounds him?

I wonder what he sees.  

I wonder what he’s thinking.  

I wonder what he's going to teach me.  

I can't wait to find out what Ronan will teach me next. 
xo, Cat

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