Last Thursday, Gus's school had a plant sale for Mother's Day. I gave him $20 and told him he could spend up to $5 on whatever he wanted if he saw something he liked. That afternoon, he came home with a 2 foot tall plant - a tomato plant to be precise - and handed it to me along with change. If you've read about our past adventures with tomato plants, you'll understand the deep significance of such a gift.
I wrote a note to his teacher the next day to find out if someone had perhaps suggested to him that it might be nice to replace the (now completely dead) tomato plant we were trying to grow. Nope. He picked out the plant all on his own (and by the way, stayed within his budget, which is something I probably would not have done).
What has this told me? Gus may not be meeting some of the social goals on his IEP, but the work and social skills training that happens every day, here and at school, are getting through to him. I always knew that he had empathy, but he's also learning to be considerate of others and to correct his mistakes. I told a friend about my gift and she mused that many grown men - even the neurotypical ones - wouldn't have been so considerate.
So as sweet as the plant was, I really loved the deeper gift of knowing that Gus really is gaining those skills that he'll need to function in the world. It's been a struggle and there will be many, many more struggles, but a plant showed me a sign that all the hardship has never been for nothing. Every day he gets a little better, grows a little more, and I think he's going to be all right.