For a while, she didn't excel at anything. She was way below average in all her developmental areas. In retrospect, I still can't understand why we didn't see it sooner. We just thought she was taking her sweet time, I guess. When we switched doctors and began evaluations, it was striking how far below the curve she fell. But as we've travel this road, many things have become apparent.
Her brain seems to work differently than most people. Learning sign language seemed to flip a switch that had been in the off position for her entire life. She has a natural propensity for signing. Her therapists "Oooh!" and "Aaah!" over how well she's picked it up. Usually once a session she uses a sign they don't know and they exclaim, "Wow KayTar! You know more sign language than I do now!" She doesn't thrive the same way using her "words", though. Speech is used solely for naming objects and people. She doesn't use it to communicate wants or needs or hold conversations. Speech is not an area she excels in. But sign language? She has picked it up miraculously.
She has fixated on letters, she can identify almost all of them now when asked to do so (when she is feeling compliant). She is signing or saying at least half of the alphabet already. She is even beginning to connect the beginning letter sounds of words to the letter they start with. We are amazed by this ability! A child who does not use speech as her main mode of communication having such a natural knowledge of its workings is surprising! BubTar is a smart cookie (as shown by his report card earlier this week showing 100% knowledge of the things they have been taught this semester), but even he has just begun to learn these things this year in PreK. But KayTar just knows them.
She struggles so greatly with her gross motor skills. Her body just won't behave in the way that comes so naturally to most children. She can't stand, walk, run, or jump. She is almost two and has been left in the toddler dust in this area. But she is a beautiful artist. She hold her pens, crayons, and markers expertly and has for a few months now. She makes beautiful swirls and lines across the page. Her pictures often resemble a swirly flower garden. Most of her peers are still "scribble-scrabbling", as BubTar calls it. She thinks out each stroke it seems, "More detail here, less over there, and perhaps a touch more color right about here." She can build amazing block towers, exceeding the norm for 5 year olds. She can successfully stack up to fourteen blocks, and might be able to stack more if her arms weren't so short.
We all have strengths and weaknesses, but most are not so obvious as KayTar's. Watching her grow into herself is such a learning experience. We have gone through stages of sadness over the things she can't do or may never do normally. We have grieved over the loss of her "normal" life. We worry about her future, about how she will function in this world that so values sameness. We worry about the areas she struggles in. But then we are surprised by her natural excellence in some areas, and we breathe a sigh of relief. Some things do come easily to her. Some things will not be a struggle. She does shine and she will continue to shine as she grows. Maybe she will never be one of the people that life comes easily to, or maybe that gap between strengths and weaknesses will close and one day life will come easily to her. Either way, one thing we have learned is that anything is possible and that anyone can shine if they are given the chance. That is something we will remember forever, no matter who our sweet KayTar grows into.