Jacob's aggression has decreased dramatically. We still get outbursts of hitting/kicking/pinching a few times a week, but it used to be several times a day. We have worked hard to change our reaction to him, and the result has been that he wants to hug and kiss us all the time because its nicer to have us responding with a smile and an I Love You than the time outs and crying that has been happening for so long.
Madison is still working on her reaction to him. She is so accustomed to having to defend herself whenever Jacob comes at her, so it has been a hard transition. But every day she's getting better at turning his pushing/hitting into hugging. They are both happier as a result. We are all so much more relaxed when we don't have to constantly brace ourselves against being bulldozed.
The change from aggression to affection is working for now, but he's so big and strong that it can be inappropriate to anyone else but our family. He doesn't realize he can't pat people on the breasts, or kiss them right on their crotch, and we have had a few embarrasing situations. We make a point to touch appropriately, but it is a little above Jacob's developmental level at this point.
Jacob has been using the potty! This is huge! I have had nightmares about having a 12 year old that I still need to change, so this progress has me hopeful that he can be fully potty trained at some point. He didn't have a accident at school for the last six weeks. Although he won't poop on the potty, he saves it till he gets home. Not pleasant, but I have just become used to cleaning up after him. For the most part it has been trip training- when we take him into the bathroom he'll try to go, but occasionally he will take himself there without us prompting him. Chris and I are very happy with this progress. I give the credit to his teacher who was vigilant about working on it at school. It made all the difference.
Jacob's receptive language is growing and growing. Everyday he seems to understand more of what we are saying. I'm often surprised when he responds to something I say when he hasn't ever reacted as if he understood before. Generally it is commands that he is following, "Put that in the garbage" "shut the door" "get your shoes on" "sit at the table." Simple, basic phrases, but its a start. It is so great to feel like we can communicate with him more easily. He still hasn't begun to use any words, but we are getting closer.
The transition to the new house has been great. It has made a big difference having a two-level home. All of us are much happier with a little space to stretch. Jacob's bedroom here is nice and bright and clean, and he hasn't become obsessed with sneaking food in there like he was doing in our old house. The fact that the kitchen is down the stairs and away from his room has detered that. Food is still our greatest battle, one we deal with all day every day, but we are able to hide the most tempting foods better in this larger space.
He loves the backyard, and has been spending quite a bit of time outside exploring and picking flowers and digging in the dirt. We don't have the play structure assembled yet, and aren't sure if we have room for it, but Jacob is happy just to be outside. We have a large deck that takes up a good portion of the yard and he likes to wander around on it and "talk" to himself. Jacob is finding enough to do out there that we aren't in any hurry to add anything just yet. I am loving all the flowers and plants, and the privacy that we have.
So while home life has gotten better, significantly so, we still cannot take him anywhere. School was the one exception. Chris and I have tried taking him a few places in the last month. Even with both of us there, it has been a stressful, exhausting disaster. He just wants to run and grab things and pick up small children, and when we need to get him back in the car he freaks out and kicks us and makes it impossible to force him in. We come away from it worn out and shaking and sweating and it really affects us. Makes us embarrassed and disappointed that we can't do something so simple with him. Then we start to think of all the things a "normal" family with kids our ages could be doing. The freedom......
Summer break started two days ago, and I'm very anxious about how I'm gonna feel being at home all day everyday. I really wish Jacob was able to go places. We live 45 minutes from the beach, and it would be so nice to take day trips with all my kids. With their ages it should be so easy to pick up and go to a park or ANYWHERE! I'm just hoping and praying I can enjoy the time with my kids at home, and manage to not feel resentful and stuck for the next 3 months. I want my big kids to have a fun summer break despite their little brother tying us down. They are so good about accepting our situation and staying positive.
I am so grateful for the progress and big steps forward that Jacob is making. These things have been so slow in coming, and to see several leaps forward in such a short period of time is amazing. I'm so proud of Jacob and how he is changing. It feels like some of my hard work is finally paying off.