Last November (2007), a note was sent home from preschool letting us know about the upcoming school picture day. Cordy had only been in school for a little over a month – placed there after making quite an impact at her developmental evaluation – and was still in the phase where she trusted no one and screamed whenever I dropped her off at school each day.
I knew Cordy didn’t like new experiences. The smallest sensory disturbance would set her off into epic meltdowns. She was fearful of bright lights, loud noises, and strange people. So when they announced picture day, I worried how she might react.
The report from her teacher that day was the story of a struggle. It took over an hour to even coax her into the darkened room with the bright flash. She had split her bottom lip that morning from a post-breakfast meltdown, leaving it slightly swollen and red. Long after the other kids flashed smiles and moved on, her teacher continued to work with her to preserve this moment.
Cordy, as she was at that point in time, was clearly displayed in the picture that resulted:
And now a year later, the new photo displays a different Cordy. A Cordy who has ever so gradually learned to cope with the sensory onslaught around her, tempered her emotions to avoid meltdowns most days, and occasionally does what is asked of her.
She still sees this world as a scary place, but she’s coming out of her own little world, ever so slowly, and reaching out to put trust in others. You can look at her face and see how these small changes over the past year have made a difference.
There’s still much work to do, but the progress so far has been impressive. I truly believe Cordy wants to free herself completely from that barrier surrounding her and keeping her from fully participating in the world around her. And our hands are firmly grasping hers, doing our best to lead her out of the fog and refusing to let go.