Young Sheldon

I got one of the most fabulous phone calls a parent can get today.

Sawyer’s assistant principal called me this morning to tell me that Sawyer scored almost two whole grade levels above the norm for math on his standardized tests! WOW! I knew he was a little math whiz, but scoring almost two grade levels above “normal” is incredible! He’s like our own little Sheldon Cooper. I don’t even watch “The Big Bang Theory”, but I know how smart Sheldon is, and it makes me think Sawyer may end up growing up to be like him, learning and memorizing more than I could ever imagine possible.

If you follow our Facebook page, you probably saw the post I made recently showing a line of flash cards on the floor. In the post, I talked about how Sawyer used to line things up all the time. Well, that post also holds another significance. That picture shows the very first time Sawyer ever counted to 100 by himself; he was only 2. He lined the cards up in order from 1-50, saying each number as he laid it down on the floor, and then went back and flipped them over to continue counting up to 100. I remember how shocked I was that he was able to count that high, and his ABA therapist at the time was blown away. He said to me “I have been working with kids for a long time now, and I’ve never seen a kid that young be able to count that high. Maybe he will be a little math savant!” We joked about it but some days I wonder…

Sawyer has always loved numbers. As a toddler he loved those math flash cards his therapists used, and he loved watching this YouTube channel called Super Simple Learning; the songs that used numbers were some of his favorites. As he has gotten older, I’ve watched as he has worked math problems out in his head that most people would need a calculator to solve. For fun, he likes to do math problems on the white board he got for his birthday, and for his 10th birthday party, he asked for a Numberblocks theme. I asked him one time why he likes numbers so much, and he said “Because they’re the same in every language”. And speaking of languages, Sawyer has taught himself how to count and even speak a little bit of Spanish, Russian, and Dutch just using YouTube; he often counts in other languages!

I have begun to notice, as well, that Sawyer seems to have a photographic memory. A lot of times when he’s doing homework, he’ll study something once and be able to get the answers right when I quiz him. When I ask how he’s able to memorize stuff so fast, he says stuff like “I don’t know but it’s kinda like I can close my eyes and still see the page in my head”.

It blows my mind to think about how far Sawyer has come. When he started preschool at 4 years old, he could barely communicate with us and we were concerned with how he’d perform in school. And he does still struggle a little bit in certain areas, but overall, he’s killing it! At the end of last school year, his IEP team even recommended stopping all SPED services because they saw no need for them anymore. The little boy I used to worry might get left behind is not only keeping up with his peers now, but even surpassing them in certain areas, and I cannot tell you how proud that makes this mama!! A few years ago, I wondered if Sawyer would ever be able to live a “normal” life and work a job. He used to say he wanted to work at Pizza Hut when he grew up, and a few years ago, I imagined him living his best life just making pizzas. Now I wonder if he may grow up to manage Pizza Hut’s cashier’s drawers, or even as part of Pizza Hut’s corporate accounting team. With this boy’s love of math, I wouldn’t be surprised!

I don’t share this to brag (well not, totally!). I share this as part of Sawyer’s story and celebrate where he started and where he is today. I learned a long time ago to celebrate the victories, no matter how big or small. Today we may be celebrating a math level that exceeds grade level, but tomorrow we could be celebrating something as “small” as Sawyer making conversation with a new friend, or learning to tie his shoes (we still rely on slip-ons). One thing living with autism has taught us in our house is that there are no “small” victories- they’re all worth celebrating and being proud about.

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