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.


  • 1.
    audra said…

    Sounds like thinks could not have went any better!!! I’m SO HAPPY for Simon, so HAPPY for YOU! I think you may have found the PERFECT fit! And if a friend or two should come out of this what could be better! GO SIMON!!!!!

  • 2.
    Brooke said…

    Like you said, so many bits of awesome!! My son made some headway this week too with struggles. I hope one day I stop wearing my heart on my sleeve because I’m not sure I can handle the emotion!!

  • 3.
    Ilona said…

    Awesome! So happy for you both!

  • 4.
    Vera said…

    Yay for both kids!

  • 5.
    Benita said…

    This is so awesome Ali!

  • 6.
    Toni from said…

    I can so relate Ali, especially to the small social successes part. My son Elliot also has Asperger’s and is almost 12. He started gasp Middle School this year and is doing extremely well socially ( at least for him.) I noticed the most improvement in his social behavior and other behaviors from 4th grade and up, really huge strides. I hope and pray it will be the same for you and you wonderful, quirky Simon-boy! I teared up reading your story about sharing the I-phone because I really get it, it’s huge, and now I want to see a scrapbook page about it.

    • ….
      Linda said…

      Toni, you just made my day:) our son is in third trade and we just started a therapy programme where he gets more excercise and along the way, hopefully a better grasp at the difficult stuff he often runs into like social skills and communication. We always have been hopeful but sometimes its just such a boost to hear from a mom who’s been there:)thank you and thank Ali for posting, i hope Simon benefits as much from his excercises as our son does. And so glad to hear you use angry birds to keep Simon calm, we do that too but sometimes it just hurts when others comment on that (like we are ‘spoiling’ him or be decadent). I’ve given up on explaining that without it, our son will scream with frustration from noise and lights but fortunately there are moms like you who can show the world what autism really is. Thnx!

  • 7.
    Paulette said…

    “sigh” of happiness:O) Thanks for sharing Ali!

  • 8.
    Cath said…

    That’s great to hear, I hope it continues to go well for Simon, there’s nothing better than watching them be happy doing something new. Yay!


  • 9.
    Nora said…

    That is sooo GREAT! Happy for you both. I sure know that feeling of being a parent and seeing the small things your child over comes and enjoys!

  • 10.
    Linda L said…

    Ali that is so awesome! The yay for the day goes to Simon – great job:)

  • 11.
    dawn said…


    Loved this Ali, so happy for all of you!! I remember the ball pit and Sam jumping in over and over not wanting to quit it was so much fun.

    Loved the way you wrote this, could hear the love and excitment in each word!!
    Have a good weekend!!

  • 12.
    Becky said…

    That’s so awesome!! I bet you were beaming!

  • 13.
    Amy said…

    his smile in the picture shows he was having exactly as much fun as you were, while watching him. makes your heart sing :O)

  • 14.
    Laura said…

    glad to hear it worked out so well!

  • 15.
    jennifer said…

    This is HUGE! How wonderful for Simon (and you)!

  • 16.
    Lisa W. said…

    You just made my day…Go Simon Go!!! This awesome and I know means the world to you…LOVE this:) Happy Weekend!!!

  • 17.
    Heidi said…

    Oh Ali!
    Tears are pouring from my face. So sweet :) so heartwarming :) What a beautiful beautiful canvas of happiness and joy!

  • 18.
    Sally said…

    YAYYY!! So happy for this success. Sounds great.

  • 19.
    Amy svob said…

    our neighbor has a pond and every evening there’s a teen that comes and feeds the fish. he is autistic and he begs his mom and dad to come over each night. it’s a great joy to see them blossom.

  • 20.
    Liz said…

    Isn’t it just wonderful when things turn out awesome? I love it when events like that happen and everything seems to “click”, Simon with his teacher, the activity etc. I hope he will enjoy it for a very long time!

  • 21.
    Ruth said…

    What a tremendous moment for Simon! Absolutely awesome!

  • 22.
    Lynn Wigren said…

    My middle son was born with multiple birth defects & I understand how great it is when they find a friend that doesn’t see any differences and make that connection with each other. What a wonderful story to start my day with. Hugs to you & your family.

  • 23.
    BarbaraLH said…

    Wonderful post….I love how you express your appreciation of your kids, your life, of you and them overcoming challenges — one day/event at a time. Pleased that all three of you had those accomplishments.

  • 24.
    Beverly said…


  • 25.
    madeline St onge said…

    Thank you for making me cry first thing in the morning. You go Simon, I am so proud of all you have done

  • 26.
    angela g a said…

    WOW. What a tremendous blessing the day was for all of you AND for us who read your post.

  • 27.
    Janet Wight said…

    This is so wonderful!

  • 28.
    Julia M. in MI said…

    Yeah, Ali! That is so awesome!

  • 29.
    heidig said…

    That’s wonderful! So happy for you, Ali (and Simon and Anna too).

  • 30.
    laura g. said…

    what a wonderful story! it warms my heart! so happy for you, Mom, that you see a potential friendship forming and Simon moving forward in his life! this is a story you will return to again and again…

  • 31.
    kelsey said…

    GO, SIMON, GO!

  • 32.
    Sue said…

    How wonderful and again how wonderful that the community is recognizing the needs and providing for this great and unique group of kiddos.KUDOS To ALL!

  • 33.
    Maggie said…

    Oh, I love reading about this huge success! Awesome!!!!!

  • 34.
    Sara Andrews said…

    This has brought a smile to my face. Thank you! I am so happy for you all!

  • 35.
    Ruth G said…

    I’m so happy for you and for Simon and it’s wonderful that Anna got to have a great time at the same time, too! What a wonderful idea for exercise! Gymnastics takes a lot of strength and energy! Hmmm, I’ll have to see if there’s anything available in my area and if I could get my son involved in it, too! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  • 36.
    Holly Heaslip said…

    I can so relate to this. I have a 27 year old daughter on the spectrum and I always have such a strong connection to your feelings. I have been were you are through the years. I read your posts and I laugh, cry, feel your pain and your triumphs!
    Holding you all in my heart,
    Holly H.

  • 37.
    Cori J said…

    That is so awesome!!! GO SIMON!!!
    I have a 9yr old who has difficulty when it comes to enrolled sports. He does not like sweating…like REALLY does not like sweating…wigs out when he sweats. It has taken us quite a few tries to find the sport for him. In the end it was karate that won him over. He is better with non team sports.
    I know the pride and excitement you are feeling and it is the best feeling in the world to see your child discover something new they like.

  • 38.
    Allison M. said…

    That is so awesome Ali!

  • 39.
    Gayl Staffler said…

    Wonderful,awesome seem to be in everyone’s comments. So lovely that you shared this simple success. I’m smiling as I write.

  • 40.
    Carolyn HP said…

    Wow! Love that Simon had some new positive experiences that will help with his development! So happy that you are enjoying the little moments as a family :)

  • 41.
    Judy said…

    Way to go Simon {{knuckle bumps}}!

  • 42.
    Leora Henkin said…

    What a wonderful report. Thanks for sharing. My son participates in a class something like this for many of the same reasons. I totally get all that you reported. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a budding friendship!


  • 43.
    Alexandra said…

    so awesome!!

  • 44.
    Chris said…

    What a HUGE success for Simon! This is such a big thing for him. Can’t wait to, hopefully, hear much, much more positive from this.

  • 45.
    rebecca m said…

    You know what jumped out at me is that the teacher took the time to chat for a few minutes about something that both boys liked (Angry Birds) – that speaks volumes in my book. It’s the concept of what I call “moving TOWARD” the kiddo rather than “this is my agenda and we need to start it now”. Makes such a world of difference. WTG!!!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Yes, exactly. I could actually tell just by talking to her on the phone that she “got it” – it was so awesome to see that my hunch was correct.

  • 46.
    Jenny L. said…

    This makes me do happy. I actually taught gymnastics at a local gym for preschoolers and for kids with special needs. Most of our kids were on the Autism spectrum although there were a few with Down’s Syndrome. It’s great to see the growth in these kids. I’m glad everyone liked it!

  • 47.

    Yay Simon! That is such an awesome story! So wonderful to see little successes in our kids, that hopefully will lead to big ones! Are you still smiling?!

  • 48.
    Megan said…

    George LOVES that gym! The foam pit are beyond awesome. I had no idea they have classes for kids on the spectrum, will have to check it out. Simon is such an amazing kiddo, I’m glad you’re finding an outlet that both kids can share! Love to you all.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Megan – it was really so great. Hailey, the teacher, does two classes – one on Tues (little kids 2-5) and then the one last night. George would fit right in with Simon and M.

  • 49.
    Denise said…

    Awesome! I know the feeling…we were so glad when our daughter finally found her athletic “love” this year. For her, it is ice skating. It’s so fantastic when kids find something they LOVE to do and are excited about. Congrats!

  • 50.
    reyanna said…

    Oh, yay! This is SOOOOO good to read! I coached gymnastics for eleven years, and I just think it’s wonderful that you took him! I’m so glad Anna likes it too!

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