As soon as we walked in the door, Em let go of my hand and sprinted past the smiling therapist who'd knelt to greet her. I'd wondered how well she'd remember this place, having been there twice before. When she made a beeline for the trampoline, I knew: she remembered perfectly.
Day one at her new center got off to a happy start, not that I'd expected otherwise. Happy is my girl's usual state of being, usually interrupted only by hunger or sleepiness, and sometimes not even then. We walked through the center, putting lunch in the fridge, snacks in the pantry and diapers in her cubby. Before I knew it, I was standing outside in the sunshine, and Em had begun her new adventure with ABA.
The week went by in the same blur that first drop-off had, but the constant was Emma's smile. She was always happy to step into the center in the morning, and after a day that was busier and longer than she was used to, her grin was always there when I came back.
As usual, the adjustment was far easier for her than it was for me. I needed a few days to miss what she'd left behind: a wonderful place with people who genuinely cared about her, not just for her. But because they cared about her, each and every one of them took the time to tell me how excited they were for the possibilities of this new program. How amazing they know it will be. How much progress they hope she'll make.
It was easy to look forward when I read the binder that gets sent home every day. Notes from her first week: "She's asking for items she wants!" "She had a great day!" "She is doing a SUPER job." "We had so much fun."
I believe she will thrive here, that the one-on-one attention from people who've devoted their careers to understanding and working with kiddos just like mine is going to go far toward unlocking her potential.
I've heard from other parents that a month in this program has brought their child a year's worth of progress. I can't imagine what that would look like for Emma, where that would take us.
I can't wait to find out.