Ever since Thomas went to live in the group home I’ve noticed a significant growth in the way he communicates and says things. The first thing I noticed was a year or so bago when Thomas told me he “really enjoyed dinner”. The word “enjoy” was new vocabulary for him. In the past he would simply tell me he liked dinner or that it was good. But to use the word “enjoy” was a new concept and I was proud of him.
Today when I picked him up, Thomas told me he thinks about me, that he thinks about “Daddy, Alyssa, Lelly, and Samantha.” “I think about all of you during the week.” I was super impressed with that whole expressed thought process. He is still growing and learning and I hope it never stops. Thomas’ IQ is one that classifies him as mentally retarded. Those words still sting even to this day. So to see his progression is amazing to me. You never know how far someone can go if you don’t place limits on them.
We’ve never placed limits on Thomas. We had no idea he even had brain damage until he was 12 years old. Until then we treated him as much like a “regular” kid as we could even though we knew he had something very wrong going on. It was a very frustrating 12 years before we we referred to a renowned neurologist way uptown at Columbia Presbyterian. Dr. Arnold Gold. He gave our son such a thorough neurological exam we’d never seen before. I had taken Thomas to different neurologists and many specialists before this. But there wasn’t anyone who could compare to Dr. Gold. He took a complete history from me and I remembered everything back then. Every milestone as an infant, every doctor we had ever seen, every diagnosis, every medication Thomas had trialed and what he was currently taking. I felt like God had prepared me for this visit. Dr. Gold then went over every test result, every MRI report that we gave him; and then he laid the heavy diagnosis of brain damage. I remember Tommy and I both felt as though someone had punched us in the gut. It took a while for us to come to terms with that diagnosis. It did however make sense and we were finally able to put a name to what was wrong. Even though we had a definitive diagnosis it didn’t mean Thomas had changed, he was still Thomas and we still had the same challenges as before our visit with Dr. Gold. The only thing that changed was the label written down officially on paper.
After watching Thomas grow these past couple of years I think of him as developmentally delayed, still; not so much developmentally disabled since there’s still things he can learn and talk about that he didn’t have the opportunity to do during the proper/scheduled time when he was supposed to do those things, aka “milestones.” He’s more affectionate with me now than he’s ever been. After I picked him up from the group home we stopped at CVS. As we left the store Thomas suddenly grabbed me, and put his arm around my neck to pull me closer and give me a kiss on the cheek. It was incredibly sweet and impulsive. I loved it. I’m looking forward to seeing Thomas grow some more.