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):
- 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).
- He ate all his broccoli at dinner without complaint.
- When it was time to leave the house to go to gymnastics he was excited.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.