Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

May 4, 2012

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.


  • 51.
    Cathy Z. said…

    This made me a weepy mess today, Ali. Go Simon. Go your little family. xo.

  • 52.
    Virginia Adkins said…

    That is so great, Ali! Thanks for sharing this with us. Those little successes mean SO MUCH!

  • 53.
    Kim said…

    ahhh making me tear up! I can just hear the happiness and excitement in your voice! Way to go Simon! What a great time had by all!

  • 54.
    jen said…

    My heart is so happy for you! Go Simon Go!!

  • 55.
    Sarah in the UK said…

    Wow this is brilliant!! So great to read & share in your joy & happiness despite not knowing you in real life, I feel close to your family after seeing you grow & change over the years.
    Can’t wait to hear about next week! x

  • 56.
    Marya said…

    I just wanted to say that I really love the way that you tell Simon’s story. Honestly, as someone who works with spectrum/ld/adhd kids, I really feel like you blog about these challenges in a way that stays true to the story, shares the experience, but also respects Simon and privacy, etc. So often I forget to see Simon as anything other than a little boy who you love and that is exactly how it should be. I really admire and respect how you represent your/his/your family’s story in this regard. That’s all… just wanted to say that it warms my heart to see you navigate this story so gracefully.

  • 57.
    Kari said…

    Awesome! What a great post. Congrats to the whole family, and congrats to Simon for everything, but especially for eating his broccoli! That is something I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to accomplish as a parent.

  • 58.
    Cindy said…

    Awesome. We need to find an class like this too. Hmmm…

  • 59.
    Lizzy said…

    That is awesome!! Congratulations to the both of you. I know how much this means to you.

  • 60.
    Val B said…

    That is just so wonderful. You just want your kids to have a great life and to be happy. It sounds so fun I want to go! :)

  • 61.
    Barb Mc said…

    Happy, happy, happy for you all!

  • 62.
    Sandie said…

    That experience was wonderful. Thank you for sharing.
    I could hear your heart speaking! God bless you all!

  • 63.
    H. said…

    This post gave me goosebumps. I absolutely love this story. I have two nephews on the spectrum and I can relate to every word you wrote.

  • 64.
    Janet White said…

    Big Day of Awesome! Thanks for the smile.

  • 65.
    Trina said…

    That is just so AWESOME, Ali!! What a great experience for both kids and a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time! Way to go Simon! :-)

  • 66.
    Allycat said…

    That is all just fabulous & fantastic & awesome! All at the same time! X

  • 67.
    BARB T said…

    Happy tear welling up in my eyes. This is such wonderful news. He smiled and wants to go back. Super cool!

  • 68.
    marisa said…

    That is awesome! Our 11 year old son is in a social skills group with lots of motor activities..not Damian’s biggest strength or interest ;) BUT he has learned to like basketball which has carried over into school where a few kids will throw with him. Not the best conversations I’m sure and maybe some quirkiness but hey he’s moving his body and found something that typical kids like!

    Not all kids rock out to Van Halen and research JFK and the 3 Stooges hehe!

    I got goosebumps when I saw how happy he was and how happy you are. I know that feeling and it’s the best.

  • 69.
    Michele H. said…

    ali – i love this story and all of the little moments leading up to the class. i love it when coaches get it. and i love it when social situations open up to lead to a few friendships.

    this is my same hope for my 16 year old. she loves her tumbling class as well. the foam pit was a bit scary for her but now she loves it:)

  • 70.
    Cindy said…

    What an awesome story (memory). WAY TO GO SIMON!!

  • 71.
    Lesley Doran said…

    So happy for you all!! It’s wonderful to read about such good news, we seem to get far to much negative on the tv lately. Your story made me smile today and I loved the way you described everything. Thanks Ali, way to go Simon and Anna!!

  • 72.
    Kathleen Loughran said…

    What an awesome awesome (so awesome it needs to be repeated) experience. Go Simon and Anna Go!!!!

  • 73.
    Jen Hart said…

    You wrote this so well, I totally got your emotions and the big things you got out of observing the small points. I am so happy for you :)

  • 74.
    tania willis said…

    this is so many kinds of awesome, Ali! celebrating right along with you! GO, Simon, GO! :)

  • 75.
    Wemdu said…

    I would say “Priceless.”

  • 76.
    Ellie A. said…

    AWESOME!!! :) So happy to hear they both had a blast!

  • 77.
    Tona said…

    Sounds like a fantastic fit for everybody!

  • 78.
    tiffany h. said…

    So exciting–for all of you! Hope the next class is just as fun and exciting.

  • 79.
    PattiP said…

    My special needs granddaughter loves her gymnastics class. Her parents found one in which the teacher is a special needs teacher at her day job. It’s so wonderful to find a teacher who connects with them. Go Simon!

  • 80.
    KellyO said…


  • 81.
    Jen W* said…

    You totally brought tears of joy to my eyes and heart. i’m so happy this was a great experience and blessing. What a wonderful day and we’ll pray that hopefully many more and a new friendship!!! (glad Anna loved it too!!) keep us posted!! *by the way, has Simon made any more stop action? we loved his first one.
    Jen W*

  • 82.
    rhonda nickol said…

    How awesome Simon and Anna! Ali thanks for making my day a lot brighter, such an uplifting event!

  • 83.
    Cara Payan said…

    You brought tears to my eyes. I’m a Mom of a 7 year old, very high functioning boy, on the spectrum and I get each and every success you mentioned. I’m really happy you have found something that everyone enjoys. We are still looking for the right activity for us. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes it is hard and very lonely since we don’t “fit” into any typical group with our son. Your post makes it feel less so. Thank you for sharing.

  • 84.
    M said…

    My 3 dd’s did gymnastics for many years- it seems like I have a million gymnastics photos that I still have not scrapbooked. It is a great sport for individual development, but still as part of a group. A kid can work on their own accomplishments and skills, and not be picked on by the team for striking out or missing a goal. I think gymnastics is a great alternative to “ball sports” for some kids

  • 85.
    Christine said…


    I loved reading about Simon’s experience at the gym. I find reading about your experiences as a parent of a child on the spectrum very helpful to me as an elementary school teacher.
    Simon and Anna are the luckiest kids on earth to have parents like you and Chris.

  • 86.
    Sue Kment said…

    I love that place! I have taken my grands there…it is so fun. I am glad that Simon is blooming there!

  • 87.
    Carmel Keane said…

    Ali – what a wonderful day for you all. I am such a fan of gymnastics and trampoline classes for children. May this be the start of many things wonderful for you all.

  • 88.
    Missus Wookie said…

    Awesome – so great and I’m always hopeful for friendships.

    Yeah for the hesitating but bravely jumping Anna!

  • 89.
    Sue W said…

    oh Ali aren’t the successes so wonderful!! And something else for Simon and Anna to share! My daughter is 42 now and we still are so excited with every step forward!! xxx

  • 90.
    Deb J said…

    Oh my! This brings tears to my eyes. It’s so neat that all this is happening. Go Simon!!

  • 91.
    stacy said…

    life is about THESE moments! Makes it all worthwhile! So happy for Simon……

  • 92.
    mandee m said…

    Amazing!!! As someone who works in the field (SLP) it is so refreshing to hear about other professionals who are making a difference… no matter how big or small it may be. GO SIMON!!!

  • 93.
    Deb said…

    That’s awesome! Gave me goosebumps reading this. I have a 10 year old with Asperger’s. We found a drama class and after a year she is still excited about going!

  • 94.
    Peggy said…

    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!

  • 95.
    Samantha Welch said…

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

  • 96.
    elizabeth said…

    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!

  • 97.
    Doreene said…

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

  • 98.
    Anthea said…


  • 99.
    Kylie Beller said…

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

  • 100.
    sarah said…

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

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