At 22, Tommy continues to be in a burst of language development. His language gains have always, always been supported by the written word, and his daily, extensive facebook chats with friends are a rich source of learning.
Even as I type, I overhear Tommy asking Peter “What does fur coat mean?” To which Peter replies “A coat made of fur” and Tommy replies “A coat made of fur.” Confirming he is taking it all in. I remember the moment he first asked “What does ____ mean?” Unlike Tommy, whose memory of dates is impeccable, I can’t tell you right now the exact date he first asked us that question. But I do recall clearly how life changing it was. It was a turning point, filled with hope and excitement!
So, earlier today, something happened. These things happen almost daily, but I chose to share this one with all of you. It went like this:
Tommy said to me “I was thinking of….”
Which is how he has begun many, many sentences for a really long time now. But then, he paused. And started his sentence again, with a new phrase I have never heard him use, ever. He said “That reminds me of…”
Honestly, to some people this might seem small, even insignificant. But to me, each and every single moment this kind of thing happens feels like a small miracle.
And so Tommy’s language moves forward, inch by inch, towards greater happiness on his part, because his desire to share, communicate, and connect is great. And as his communication skills improve, his ease with the social world changes as well.
Learning is lifelong. My greatest joy is hearing from the many, many families who find hope in Tommy’s story. And from everyone who finds inspiration in Tommy’s perserverance and successes, despite his challenges.
Perhaps today you are feeling like things are just too hard. In this world, that is understandable. Life is overwhelming. But one step at a time, day by day, you will make the gains you need to be successful. You really will.
Thanks to each and every person who has supported Tommy. And to each of you who need support, please know that inside of you is the courage you need to move forward, inch by inch, step by step, to thrive and find joy!