When Ammon was in his first year of first grade, he struggled in every way at school. Focus issues were tough. Everything was overwhelming and he was having trouble with perseveration among other things. I discussed the discouragement I was feeling with Dr. Valdez and he said, "Who says he has to go to school? Let him stay home and enjoy smelling the flowers and being outside and just living life the best he can for the little time he might have here." (None of us thought Ammon would survive to be as old as he is.) That was one piece of advice I did not take from Dr. Valdez. Jim and I both felt there was a lot more to Ammon than just a cute little face. So we kept him in school. We watched him learn to read and slowly develop. I don't think we were really prepared for the mental jump he has taken in the past three months. It's a virtual miracle to see the changes he has made so quickly. He has always tried hard to get good grades within his mental and physical scope but this year he is exceeding anything we expected.
We have always insisted that he go to some regular classes, not just special ed classes. The UCBT classes you see on the report card below are the special ed classes. They work on science and math and living skills as well in those classes. I think, however, that Ammon is scheduled to take a regular science class next semester or next year. Maybe his English class is the one that is helping the most. They are teaching the kids to be assertive and self-advocates. This is a resource class (just above the UCBT classes). Ammon kept talking about being an advocate for himself and one day I simply said, "They need to teach you to take personal responsibility for your classwork as well. It doesn't do any good to speak up for yourself if your actions can't speak for themselves." He took this to heart. He has learned how to get the teacher's attention when his classwork has not been recorded and shows as being incomplete. He rejoices in a good grade and the teachers are watching his progress with great interest. He loves all his classes. His video production class is all he hoped it would be. Today they were supposed to release his personal project to the entire school - he has made a pitch for the school to donate pop tabs for the benefit of the Ronald McDonald House. I hope we get to see it. He wasn't satisfied with one day's filming and stressed over it until he got it right. He knows all kinds of terms I've never heard before.
He adores seminary. He knows all his scripture chase scriptures. He is following his siblings in that interest and ability. He has a special affinity for spiritual understandings.
And the food/eating issue! Holy cow! I was so excited yesterday because I realized that he is eating better and better. This morning he was able to drink his entire milkshake in 25 minutes before he left for school. When he first started it would take over an hour to do that. Last night he ate some of my homemade chicken soup and some pumpkin dessert. Granted, the servings are still very small, but he's getting it. He eats pancakes and scrambled eggs now. He takes a honey/butter sandwich to school often. Or cheese chunks which he loves. He eats yogurt and Bologna sandwiches with cheese on it. The goal is to do it more quickly. He's learning and he's so proud of himself that if he wore buttoned shirts, those buttons would pop right off. And we are proud of him too. Beyond proud.
He has been invited to be part of the Hope Squad at the high school. That is a group of trained individuals that work with at-risk kids for suicide. Ammon's positive spirit caught this group's attention so they will train him and help him be part of this group. He is beyond happy to do this.
He told the bishop in is last interview that he wanted to bear his testimony in sacrament meeting but couldn't without a mike. The bishop said they would have the mike set up this week for him. So Ammon wanted to practice his testimony. I asked him if he knew what a testimony was and he said, "Yes, it's knowing something and explaining what you know." He then proceeded to bear a simple but profound testimony to me without any prompting from me. I knew he knew what he was saying. It wasn't a 4-year old's testimony. It was a priest's testimony, appropriate for his age.
He has big plans for his life. He wants to attend BYU. He fully plans to go on a mission after he is done with school at age 22. It will be some kind of local mission, but he will serve. There is no hesitation in this young man's mind that if you dream big, it will be accomplished.
The night before last he asked me this question: "Mom, do you think some day I will get to meet the prophets?" I said, "Ammon, you knew them before you came. Your patriarchal blessing states that you were a personal friend to the Savior and He knew you well so I'm quite positive you knew Elijah and Abraham and Joseph Smith and all the others. You just have a different kind of mission here than they did. You will know them again when you die."
Now we just have to get him through another surgery Nov. 20th to release the adductors in his legs so his legs can lay down flatter. Same day surgery -- knock on wood, we will get out within 24 hours.
He continues to surprise and delight us. He has become a young man very quickly.