I Love This Kid

There is nothing better than finding something he likes and enjoys and wants to do again.

Last night, at the recommendation of his developmental pediatrician, we tried a gymnastics class at the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics.

Turns out they have a couple classes for kids on the spectrum. Turns out one of those classes has one other 12 year old boy enrolled. Turns out the teacher is studying to be an Occupational Therapist and is gifted with working with kids. Turns out there's a class for Anna right around the same time.

Turns out, he loved it.

There were so many awesome moments (that started even before we left the house):

  1. There was no issue about wearing the shirt we bought for him which was sleeveless (if you've been following along you know he has a strong dislike for short-sleeved shirts).

  2. He ate all his broccoli at dinner without complaint.

  3. When it was time to leave the house to go to gymnastics he was excited.

  4. When we pulled up to the building he got out of the car, peeked into the big glass windows and saw a giant pirate ship along one wall of the building. Not only is there an actual ship structure coming out of the wall but there is a big pit of foam blocks under the ship for the "water" and the kids get to jump off the ship into the water. 

  5. We went in and they immediately went over to the baby play area while waiting for their classes. They watched the other kids, paying particular attention to any and all action around the pirate ship.

  6. Anna's class started first. She got right in line and off she went. She loved it. Jumping, somersaulting, walking on the balance beam, etc. At the end of her class she got to play on the pirate ship and one of my favorite moments was watching her stand at the edge and jump off the side into the big blocks of foam. She hesitated just long enough for it to mean something and then jumped in.

  7. While Simon was waiting for his class to begin he was playing Angry Birds on my phone. A couple minutes before class started another boy who looked to be about his age walked in, took off his shoes and looked around. I saw him notice that Simon was playing Angry Birds. He walked over to Simon and stood right behind his chair, maybe just a little too close for someone he didn't know, watching him play. I  saw the boy's Dad watching me watching them. He said the boys name in a way that meant "move back" and I said, "that's okay, I think they are going to be in class together." At that point the boys got introduced to one another ("Simon, this is M, he's going to be in your class.") and ended up having a little discussion about Angry Birds and Simon shared my phone with M so he could have a turn too. I live to celebrate moments like this - little social successes that maybe, just maybe will begin a friendship.

  8. Around this time their teacher came over and met Simon and chatted about Angry Birds for a few minutes before they moved out onto the actual exercise area. It was beyond awesome to see him continue to be excited as the three of them took off for class. They started on the big trampolines which seemed to me like the perfect place to begin (and something Simon has loved to do before at another local gym).

  9. Our goal with this class is exercise and strength building and if it can be fun, well, even better (and if he ends up making a friend that would be so awesome). He definitely got exercise and he was definitely having fun and if he keeps at it he will definitely develop some strength. The class was long enough (an hour) for it to mean something and long enough for him to get tired (which isn't hard when you aren't really that physically active in the first place). He was bright eyed, following directions, and he was trying. That willingness to try, in an of itself, is huge.

He ended the class the same way he began, with a very big smile - asking if we could go back tomorrow.

118 thoughts

view more comments
25 of 118
  1. Peggy

    2012-05-04 20:09:30 -0400

    I wish there was something like this for my son. I live in a rural are and we just do t have things like that. He looks very happy!

  2. Samantha Welch

    2012-05-04 21:00:57 -0400

    Your story made me smile :) I'm so happy Simon and Anna have found an exciting place to tumble around!!

  3. elizabeth

    2012-05-04 22:50:10 -0400

    That's fantastic. My older two are competitive gymnasts now and Bridget just kind of got started when she was a toddler because her sisters were doing it, but it turns out that it has benefited her in completely different ways as she has had issues with her hips, feet, and legs that the other two never had. And gymnastics has helped her make HUGE strides in these areas. I was a ball sports kid growing up so I didn't know much about gymnastics, but I am amazed at what an impact it can make!

  4. Doreene

    2012-05-04 22:54:41 -0400

    Way to go, Simon--very proud of you! Keep up the good work!

  5. Anthea

    2012-05-04 23:10:39 -0400


  6. Kylie Beller

    2012-05-04 23:14:14 -0400

    I read this with the BIGGEST smile on my face!!! YAY for Simon... So happy for you all :))))))

  7. sarah

    2012-05-05 00:38:19 -0400

    i actually teared up reading this, ali. i am so happy for simon. and happy for you too. this is awesome!

  8. Eniko

    2012-05-05 08:58:19 -0400

    To this day, the sound of my Tyler's voice in laughter is my favorite sound in all the world...he just turned 30! When I saw your heading: "I Love That Kid"...I knew I would love this post!

  9. christen

    2012-05-05 09:38:33 -0400

    thanks for sharing! we all need good things for our kids.

  10. YIN

    2012-05-05 09:43:35 -0400

    Oh, so happy for Simon, and celebrating with you! I know how wonderful it is to see them make a friend, hope this turns out great. Thanks for the lovely account! You always inspire.

  11. Amberca

    2012-05-05 10:24:02 -0400

    Awesome story, Ali! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  12. Michelle

    2012-05-05 16:34:35 -0400

    I do not know you or your family, but you are such a gifted storyteller, that upon reading your story, I do feel like I know you. I always enjoy reading your journalling in your blog, but for some reason today's really struck a cord with me. I am not one to put myself out there like you do. I don't have fears of judgement, or whatever, but I am just not comfortable sharing that much of myself. But besides that, you are also taking the time to do it well. Everyone has stories to tell, with good/bad storytelling skills, but not all of us take the time to properly tell them and record them for posterity. Thank you for role modeling how to do it well and how to do it often.

    Best wishes with this new endeavor with Simon and Anna.

  13. Karen

    2012-05-05 19:28:59 -0400


  14. Nancy Gill

    2012-05-05 21:16:51 -0400

    Loved reading this post. You never know where the day will lead you and this day had some good moments for both kids:)

  15. MonicaB

    2012-05-06 08:48:47 -0400

    I'm so happy that Anna and Simon enjoyed their gymnastics class. My boys have been doing gymnastics for over 4 years and they still love it. It's great exercise and I love watching how strong and flexible they are getting. It's amazing.

  16. Amy Mc

    2012-05-06 10:04:51 -0400

    I love a true life story...hmmm :)

  17. Allie.Duckienz

    2012-05-07 03:14:48 -0400

    OMG I am so crying! This is amazing. Gosh, when you find something this wonderful you NEED to celebrate. I can't wait until we can meet some of these milestones with my foster brother. He is coming up 5 and he may even be walking by the time he starts school. He is getting so much stronger so there is hope. Gosh a potential friendship... My prayers are with Simon and you all x

  18. gina

    2012-05-07 19:20:54 -0400

    Such beautiful journalling! I am a little misty eyed..what a wonderful experience.

  19. Kristi K

    2012-05-08 15:44:12 -0400

    Was great seeing and talking with you! The kids seemed so incredibly happy!

  20. Alyssa

    2012-05-08 23:26:07 -0400

    I have been following your blog for a few months now, and I just have to say you amaze me! I love how you tell it like it is, both the bad and the good. The way you have persevered totally shows that life's pieces can be arranged and rearranged and that is so inspirational. Thank you for sharing so much of your life for all to see!

  21. Marie

    2012-05-09 10:43:40 -0400

    I LOVE this!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing the story of your life with us - so inspiring!!!

  22. May Studio AE Blog Hop & Project Life 2012 | Week Eighteen | Ali Edwards

    2012-05-10 08:00:55 -0400

    [...] Insert number one (which came from this post about Simon’s first time at gymnastics): [...]

  23. Lusi

    2012-05-18 22:45:13 -0400

    With 2 kiddos (out of 5)and a hubby on the spectrum, I also understand how HUGELY exciting and wonderful it is to be able to celebrate the little and big things! Yay Simon! I've been following your blog Ali for so many years and remember when there was talk on 2peas about Simon and autism. I remember thinking, 'gosh that would be so hard, I don't know what I'd do if that was me...' I'm fairly sure your story was the first one I'd ever heard of in regards to the big 'A' word! Many years later, many therapies, diets, tears, joys, homeschooling and much much more, it is also a huge part of our life. Anyway, was just thinking about that the other day and wanted to share it with you.
    Yay again Simon and Ali and Anna too! I celebrate with you :-)
    Lusi x

  24. Michelle

    2012-05-23 11:23:18 -0400

    How wonderful! I have two boys with Aspergers, 8 and 10. I would love to find something they enjoy where they could get both exercise and social interaction. I think I will look into that! I'm so happy for your little guy!

  25. Sharon

    2012-08-25 14:37:48 -0400

    The small successes are the ones that make me happiest with my grandson who is also on the spectrum. The last time I visited his class (I'm invited for special occasions because I am "his great friend, Nana"--it's how he introduces me), he got us with his classmates in front of the parent/grands and sang along with the group. That was wonderful in itself..but then I noticed his teacher holding his hand. I almost cried--he had never let anyone but his immediate family (including myself, Pa and his aunts) touch him. Small steps, big happy!

Login or Register to comment.