One of the most important and ongoing life lessons Bryan has taught me is patience. Not that I’ve mastered it by any means. I practice it, but fall far short of achieving the patience I seek.
My first lesson in this all-important virtue – this “fruit of the Spirit” – came right after Bryan was born. He was my first child and I already knew I wanted to give him the nutritional and speech benefits that nursing would provide.
Unfortunately, Bryan’s overall weak muscle tone included a poor sucking reflex. All three days in the hospital, the nursing staff would work with the two of us, teaching me how to tuck my finger under his tiny chin and move it up and down to simulate that reflex. When my milk came in and Bryan still wasn’t able to nurse, the pain was more than uncomfortable. Each day we’d practice and, on the day we were to leave the hospital, Bryan finally caught on. I still remember the frustration of trying to wait patiently for this natural response to occur.
The inevitable childhood milestones were achieved at a much slower pace. Things like rolling over, sitting, pulling up to a stand, babbling, grasping a Cheerio, walking, talking, etc. all were SO long in coming.
But we patiently waited and they eventually happened. When Bryan reached these important accomplishments in his growth, the mastery was all the sweeter after all of the struggling and practicing we did together.
Through all of his life, Bryan has had to have patience with himself and with others as he moves towards his goals.
Ever since infancy he has had yearly goals to strive towards. An Individualized Program Plan was in place from birth to age five. The Individualized Education Plan was used during the school years of ages 5-21. And, now, an Individualized Service Plan structures his life from age twenty-one to now.
Currently, the biggest challenge for us as a family and as Team Bryan (the group of wonderful young people who work with him on his goals) is remaining patient when Bryan expresses himself. Disfluency and difficulty getting a point across are Bryan’s biggest hurdles to overcome.
With each goal along the way, Bryan patiently works towards achievement and we, as his family, patiently encourage and help him as we have done for almost forty years.