Avery had a really big year this year! At the beginning of the year we were looking at wheelchairs, and by the end of the year, we were watching her walk up to 70 paces! It’s been a very exciting year!
Avery got her first wheelchair in March. It’s hot pink and had light-up casters on the front. (The casters have since been replaced with much more practical 6” tires.) She picked it up right away and was wheeling herself around in no time!
Avery really mastered the tricycle this year. Even in bare feet, she can peddle around very happily for a whole afternoon!
She finished preschool on a high, no longer qualifying for special education!! She was deemed completely independent in the school environment, since she was able to get around by herself in her wheelchair and walker, and she’s never had any cognitive delays So we were proud of her for that.
Avery lost her first tooth in July, and the second came not far behind! Her adult teeth had already come out behind and were waiting to take their places. Her two top middle teeth have been loose for a few months now, but haven’t yet fallen out. We also discovered that her six year molars had already come through when we went to the dentist in the summer!
Academically, Avery and I started her first year of homeschooling in September. One of the deciding factors when we were considering homeschool was the frequency of our therapy trips (Herndon and Sterling for ABM, and, as of November, Charlottesville for Feldenkrais). It has been going well! It has been a challenge for me, and is forcing me to be more organised than I am by nature! But that is a good thing! She is a good learner, and has made great progress with her reading and basic math skills.
Avery is a mostly sweet big sister to her brothers, but she does like to get her own way, and has been earning quite a few Time Outs for pushing and yelling recently…! She also likes to start arguments with Brogan sometimes, even when he’s not disagreeing with her!! She developed quite a liking for the word “No!”, which isn’t our favourite thing, but she is getting a bit better now. She likes sharing a room with Brogan, and is an avid bedtime reader! We read a story with each of them, and then she has a pile of books on the stool next to her bed which she reads through by herself and puts at the end of her bed before she cuddles up with her bunny and goes to sleep. She is a wonderful cheerleader for Brogan and Oliver, and seems genuinely happy and excited when either of them achieves something new. She loves to make cards for her friends, and she loves drawing and writing. She has a good appetite these days, and mealtimes are rarely a battle with her, which is lovely for us! She will try new foods, and likes a good variety of things – she will even eat salad these days! She still only likes water, apple juice, milk, or chocolate milk to drink though, and that’s just fine with us She won’t touch soda – hates the stuff!
We started contemplating surgery options early in the year, and by the summer we had decided to give SPML a try. With the help of many wonderful people. we were able to raise the funds for her surgery and the following months of therapy, and on August 26th, Avery underwent her first elective surgery, in the hopes of giving her the chance to walk independently and healthily. She was a complete superstar during the whole thing. She was so excited to try out her “new legs” after her surgery, that she tried to stand up and walk as soon as we got back after her surgery, when I ran out to the store to get her prescriptions for the pain! So, of course, it hurt. And the next few times she tried in that first couple of days, it hurt. So then she was afraid to try for some time after that. She had some residual pain in a couple of spots for a couple of months afterwards, which we were not expecting, and which is not the usual after SPML. After the initial improvement in her posture, movement in her feet, and separation of her legs, progress seemed slow for a little while. We went to therapy religiously and progress was being made, but then, all of a sudden, on the 5th of December, Avery seemed to make up her mind and decide she was ready. She walked all day! She walked, and fell down, picked herself up and walked, fell down again, and just kept going! It was so exciting to watch!! (You can watch a video of her walking that first day HERE!)
The progress has continued since then! Currently, her wheelchair is sitting, locked up, in the carport, because it has been weeks since
we took it out of the back of the van! She has been using her walker everywhere, and has been walking independently (with her SAFOs on) in all sorts of places On Christmas Day, during our church service, Avery started walking around in the hall, and at one point, she took SEVENTY unassisted, independent steps! Not just in a straight line either! It was amazing to watch. And the best part is how much she loves it We are a very happy family, and she is a very happy girl!!
Avery has also claimed a lot more independence in other areas these past few weeks too! Since she became so motivated to walk, she has also started walking around a lot at home. She likes to hold onto the wall and walk from the bathroom to her bedroom at bedtime, turning off lights along the way, just because she can! She also likes to walk to her dresser and open the drawers, selecting her own outfits, and dressing herself- all new developments!