At four, Sophie’s as creative as ever. She loves all forms of arts and crafts–modeling clay, watercolors, paints, mixed media, drawing, coloring. She often gets into phases, where she fixates on a certain idea and keeps drawing, coloring, and painting that one thing until she gets it “right.” Whether it’s rainbow carrots or fairy eggs or roller coasters, she’s always got an idea.
She loves sensory play. Fine motor activities, like practicing letters, doing dot-to-dot pages, or stringing beads are really calming. She also loves things like kinetic sand, shaving cream, water, and playing with dried beans. She loves anything tiny or miniature.
Her favorite thing (other than art) is cooking and baking. Sophie LOVES to help in the kitchen. Although she won’t eat most of it, Sophie can identify over three dozen kinds of produce, including herbs like basil and cilantro. She knows the ingredients to granola and can crack eggs like a professional (no shells in the batter!). She loves helping mix up batches of roasted vegetables or a pot of soup, and can slice the bananas for banana bread. As much as she loves cooking and baking, she really can hardly tolerate the texture of a lot of the foods she’s happy to cook. It breaks my heart, but I like believing we’ll get there.
She’s got an impeccable memory. She recalls names, lines from books we read months ago, or episodes of tv shows she’s only seen once. She corrects me if I try to skim-read a favorite book and will make me recite the lines till they’re as they should be.
Sophie can’t get enough of books. She’s VERY–V E R Y–visual, so the illustrations and photos in books really help the stories come alive. She remembers nearly everything she reads and answers questions in correct, but surprising ways. If, for instance, you’re playing the “what animal has/does/eats ____?” game, she might respond to your “what animal is poky?” with “a thorny devil” (lizard) or your “what animal likes to dig?” with “a jawfish!”
She is tenacious and strong. She is fiercely independent (such a wonderful and difficult quality!), and will try almost anything. She’ll climb, run, jump through anything. She would rather try anything by herself first than be helped. She’s tough and brave, and I love that about her.
She’s also sweet as can be. Through thick and thin, hard and harder, good times and bad, Sophie is my buddy. We have a clear mother/daughter relationship, but she’s also my little friend. She loves to paint nails, run to the grocery store, and read or watch a show together. She’s the first one to pop up to cook with me. She asks for me and wants me close. She wants me first when she’s hurt or happy, tired or sick, excited or surprised. In a lot of ways, I’m an anchor for her. I keep her grounded when the world is overwhelming or her body is fighting against her.
In a lot of ways, she’s an anchor for me, too. I’ve been a big dreamer for much of my life. I’ve wanted to do big things, learn and try everything, travel everywhere, and live BIG. Autism has changed a lot of what we can do at the moment, and has really changed the landscape of my life, perhaps forever. But there, planted in the middle of everything, are Sophie and Milo. They remind me that my life is big and beautiful in ways that I could never have imagined. That even if it’s a different color or shape or direction than the one I had in mind, it’s mine. And we’re doing small things with great love.