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Good Things For Gwendolyn: Being Like Her Friends - Reading, Climbing

May 27, 2011 by Victoria Strong
It has been an exciting week at school this week. Gwendolyn "climbed" a tree and this is now her favorite thing to do. She saw all the other big girls in the tree and looked at me with an expression that said, Mom, we are doing this. It took some navigating, but seeing her so determined I knew I didn't have a choice. And once in the tree, watching her so excited by her accomplishment just left me speechless. She has now done it again and again and again. And, of course, she had to show Daddy -- so she climbed with him again and again and again the next day at school. She likes to sit on the branch and, now that she's such a pro, she swings her legs and looks around at her friends with an expression that says, Just hanging out with the gals smile

And another new exciting thing, Gwendolyn read a book to her classmates. Yes, our baby "stood" before her class all by herself and read a book that she had picked out to share!!! I know -- wow! She wasn't shy or nervous...she marched into the class and excitedly read "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." And then yesterday she chose to share "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and she then participated in "Show and Tell." She picked out her red cowgirl hat and Jessie doll to bring to school and then told her friends what they were and why she likes them. And she was so confident about it all -- and Bill and I had that proud parent lump in our throats as we watched.

So how was this possible? A really awesome communication specialist came into the school to work with Gwendolyn and in just an hour Gwendolyn was "speaking" and loving it. Using a switch device, the teacher recorded the book's pages and then with a tap Gwendolyn could control when each page was said. They practiced with several books and then using her eyes, Gwendolyn selected which book she wanted to share with the class. She practiced one time outside and then she was so excited to share with her class all on her own. She looked at each classmate and was so clearly eager to have this opportunity to communicate with them. For yesterday's class, the specialist asked us to bring in something special to share. Gwendolyn and I talked about different options to bring in before she settled on her red cowgirl hat and her Jessie doll (who has a matching red cowgirl hat). Using her eyes, she was able to tell the teacher what she wanted to say. The teacher gave options of things she may want to say and when she liked that idea she rolled her eyes up (she rolls them multiple times when she really likes something) -- when she didn't want to say something, she didn't roll her eyes up. It was all so clear and she eagerly orchestrated a conversation with her peers. And they loved it, too. We are so excited about this opportunity for independence for Gwendolyn and can't wait to continue exploring all of this.

Gwendolyn is such a social child and it is so interesting to see her with other children. All of her favorite activities usually include interacting with friends. At snack time she looks to see what the others are eating and she wants to have what they have, too. During the story, she is riveted and tells them to be quiet if they start talking too much during the book. She loves to make things with friends and play dress up with them. And even though swinging on the swings is the best ever, it is even more fun (and she giggles and squeals) when a friend is pushing us to make us go higher.

What a great week for Gwendolyn!!! Just one of the kids!

Talk About It

What an awesome week! This post brought tears to my eyes. I know how absolutely amazing it is to see your child interacting with friends. Nicholas used a similar switch awhile back where we recorded phrases for him and he loved it too. God bless that beautiful, spirited girl of yours!!!
Posted by Jessica on 2011-05-27 15:27:52
I LOVE to hear all of the amazing things that your little girl is up to!! : ) She continues to amaze and inspire so many of us, thanks to a little help from mommy and daddy! ((((HUGS))))
Posted by Kristen on 2011-05-27 16:50:13
AMAZING! Love that she has so much control. How exciting for her. I'm excited to hear what she has to say!
Posted by Shannon Miles on 2011-05-27 17:47:15
Tears. I am so glad that we have the technology that can allow your little girl get her thoughts/words out-so exciting! I know how special that would have been for all 3 of you and can't wait to hear more about it in the future. Love the pics and the ones in the tree-priceless, just fun childhood activities-they are truly the best! Hugs, Em
Posted by Emma on 2011-05-27 18:33:54
Hi! Thank you for your little girl, thank you for your good news. My daughter has also SMA and the worst part is not her condition but how negative all around it is. Reading about your daughter is so refreshing and gives me so much hope in the future. Hope she and my estella climb many many trees x
Posted by Maria on 2011-05-27 22:13:49
Gwendolyn is so awesome! She is going to rule the world one day!! Love, love, love reading about your little Princess!
Posted by Tammy Duke on 2011-05-28 11:43:14
Gwendolyn conquering her world from a tree, wearing a pirate hat - what could be better? I ADORE this photo - it says it all - she is brave, adventurous, and determined!
Posted by Sheri on 2011-05-29 23:14:19
All I have to say is OH MY GOD!!!! Simply amazing...go G!!
Posted by Marcela Vallarino on 2011-05-30 10:58:05

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