It might not be rain falling on your head this morning. It might be heart bits again, because mine shot up in the air and burst like fireworks.
At gymnastics this weekend the Special Olympics team sat in the warm-up circle and each girl said her name and favorite dessert. Rhema sat in the circle with the help of her coach Shea, and Hope and I stood off to the side. When it was Rhema’s turn to say her name, Hope went over to the circle and sat next to her. She put her hands to Rhema’s face and asked, “Rhema, what’s your name?” I think Rhema said her name but it was only for Hope to hear and know. After a few moments Hope told the group, “This is Rhema and her favorite dessert is…um… slush!”
When the team went into another section of the gym Hope and I retreated to the lobby area, where wouldn’t you know it, slush was for sale. Yeah, Hope’s so stinkin’ cute she got a Bubble gum slush out of me. And being the sister she is, she saved some for Rhema and gave it to her when the practice was over.
Rhema eagerly slurped as we crossed the parking lot and buckled in. She grabbed her iPad and the automated voice from her communication app filled the car, “I want… something to eat… slush. I want slush.”
“Oh my gosh!” I screamed.
“Oh my gosh!” Hope squealed.
“I want slush. I want slush. I want slush. I want slush.”
She already had the slush. She was not making a request. It just so happens that currently her screens are somewhat limited to only making requests. Except for a few rare occasions all of Rhema’s language – vocal or through the iPad – has been prompted and repetitive, based on requesting a food item or activity. (This has been so important in her learning.) But in the car, I think for the first time ever, she was commenting. She was independently sharing with us: I have slush, (and yes Hope) I like it!
The old reports said things like,“Poor receptive language. “Word deafness” possibly due to seizure activity in the brain. Poor expressive language. Zero joint attention. Child does not ask for help or make other basic requests. Child has limited ability to share interest or enjoyment with others.”
And now. She can – and desires to! – put words and pictures together to make a statement about slush, just for the sake of saying it!
Stay here with me for a moment because I don’t ever want to let it go. This is a piece of everything I’ve prayed for and been afraid to dream of. This is God surprising us with joy. This is hope I can’t describe, hand-delivered to a mama’s heart in desperate need of it. This is another light shining into my girl, who sees and hears and thinks and understands so much. This is we’ve-come-so-far and we’ve got a ways to go, so keep the faith and hold on.
When God gave me Rhema I didn’t know I would get to write of miracles.
O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. ~Psalm 30:2