Friday, March 5, 2010

Gigi's gift

If you were born on March 5, there is a restless quality to you that is unmistakable, and this can lead you to your share of adventures, but it can also get you into trouble at times! You easily feel stifled and bored by routine, so it is essential that you choose a life path that allows you the freedom to grow and learn. You may move forward prematurely, failing to complete projects you start, until you discover that your talents lie in inspirational, motivational, and other such fields.


Dear Grace,

Today marks your 7th birthday, and it’s been a long journey, my little squirrel.

Out of all of the children to enter our lives, you will by far always be the most challenging, the one who makes a parent question whether she knows what’s best, wonder what to do or where to turn in a desperate moment. Since you were two, you have been shaped by hundreds of hours of therapy—from speech to occupational to behavioral. So many appointments, so many specialists, so few answers.

And now, now that you’re in first grade, we know that our belief in early intervention has been worth our investment of time. I greatly credit Miss Heather, a gregarious spirit who nurtured you in daycare. Your hand-flapping, tip-toe walking and drop in vocabulary prompted her to advise us to have you evaluated.

That was five years ago.

After desperate phone calls and consultations, we received a diagnosis that no parent wants to hear: autism spectrum. Unfortunately, there is no cure, no one to blame, no specific answer to pinpoint. We just had to make the best of a vague discovery, and we have.

And now look at you.

You’ve made great strides from the days of spinning and banging your head in frustration, of losing your ability to speak and turbulent tantrums. As the astrology forecast indicates, there is indeed a restless quality about you, a trait that leads you to constant strife and an overabundance of drama. Perhaps living in a house full of women adds to that. But we know that your disorder is at the root.

Still, your forecast also suggests that you should choose a life path that allows you the freedom to learn and grow. We know that will happen with the continued support. Right now, as you master math and learn to read—even if it’s with the assistance of an aide—we are all so proud of how many hurdles you’ve cleared, for we know many more await.

Just this week, days before the anniversary of your birth, you selected "Splat the Cat," a book from your personal library that we had never read before, and you read it on your own. Flawlessly. All 32 pages. By yourself. Afterward, you radiated like a candle on a dark evening.

For a child who doctors once said would most likely not be able to live independently, you have overcome the odds placed against you. Chances are you will not attend an Ivy League school; you may not even attend a state school. But you will become someone. We know this. We believe this.

You are a creative, intelligent, humorous ball of spunk with a penchant for creating highly detailed books, for singing, for imaginary play. And in this little journey, you have taught me so much about myself—to be patient, to find alternatives, to look at life in new ways, to never settle for less than what we all deserve on this odyssey.

I will always be your advocate, as long as I walk this land. I will always be there for you, to champion your successes, to calm you when you fall short. Know this, especially on your birthday, that you've been inspirational and motivational without even trying. After all, the best gifts of today are the gifts you’ve given me.

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