Joshua has severe brain damage and the experts at Great Ormond Street assessed his development in April and judged him to be at the development level of a 12-18 month old. Yet we have always believed ,and continue to believe, that he knows a lot more about what is going on than he is able to express:
Joshua has limited language these days but one of his favourite words is ‘bath’ and he clearly knows what it means and where he can find one.Llast night after he had finished his tea, he stood up, said ‘bath’ and raced upstairs to stand next to the bath and wait for me to start the taps running. He enjoyed his early bath but later, when his dad stripped off for his bath without saying a word, Joshua nipped in front of the queue and again was at the top of the stairs before we knew it. So there is no need to use objects, such as a sponge, as Speech & Language suggested, for word association activities as he clearly knows what is going on from both the word ‘bath’ and even from the action of getting undressed.
Our son likes to watch the same DVDs on over and over again: he is mesmerised by Madagascar as though he has never seen it before. I am constantly trying to interest him in other cartoons or films; I have recently given away our copy of ‘Frozen’ as I have never been able to interest him in it, despite the songs which I thought would grab him.I have explained before how much Joshua enjoys music but it is not just a blind love of music : when enjoying Disc 1 of the 2005 Live8 show – or “the Show” as it is familiarly known in our house – Joshua jigs through U2 and Coldplay but he wanders off during the Elton John set! So this suggests that Joshua has definite preferences and that he is making a positive choice.
Joshua worked out that he could get a great reaction from an autistic boy in his class at school, who did not like the word ‘no’. So, our son would derive great pleasure from seeking Gareth, out to wave his finger in his face while shouting “no, no ,no” to get an explosive response, and often a shove. This was a deliberate and calculated provocation, which would not have been as effective with any other child in his class, and showed some pretty sophisticated brain power.
Last night for the second time, Joshua surprised us both when he appeared, with a big grin, downstairs, when we have fitted a door on the landing with 2 handles that have to be pressed down at the same time in order to open the door.My husband fitted this door once he was too tall to be restrained by the baby safety gate, which he tumbled over the top of once, as he was leaning so far over it. The first time that Joshua appeared, I accused my husband of not closing the door properly, as Joshua only has one working hand. But he was certain last night that he had doubled checked the door so Joshua must have persevered and found a way, despite the fact that he is only able to use his left hand. This means we cannot keep him off the stairs at night until we add a bolt to the door, which is impressive really.
I can remember telling Barbara, the wonderful health visitor, when he was 3 or 4 years old, that I hoped that Joshua was naughty when he was older because ” it means he has spirit”. Well, be careful what you wish for as our 14-year-old boy who is now taller than me, shows his tremendous spirit every day of his life!