Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving Them Chances to Succeed and Not Succeed

I've already written about my nightmares in searching for Logan's extracurricular activities for him. Music class, soccer class, Tae Kwon Do... just did not work for us. However, I had recently found some agencies that might even pay for a music or gymnastics class for Spencer. He is eligible because he has the PDD diagnosis. I wanted to use the much of the funds on classes since I felt that I wasn't being fair to Spencer because we had barely ever tried to put him in a class with typical children his age. Our disasters with music and soccer class with Logan sort of scarred us.

But free classes! A place to go when the weather is freezing! Isn't it a dream come true?

Well, not quite... We had already tried music class for Spencer and that was a total bore. We also tried two gymnastics classes: one with parent participation and the other without. I made Kai do it so that he can experience firsthand the skills and limitations of Spencer. Spencer has great gross motor skills. In fact, I was hoping that his great motor skills would help him stay interested and more engaged in a structured class with typical kids that taught gymnastics because I thought he loved gymnastics-like activities.

Uh, WRONG! In the parent participation class, the exercises were so easy and Kai had to be with him for every step. How tiring! The other class without parent participation was teaching harder skills and it was even more stressful for Kai because Spencer would not let Kai leave.

This is depressing. Here I have a chance to get these classes paid for but my kid can only do it if I am with him as an assistant teacher/security blanket. I want Spencer to be in a weekend class because I want him to be around other kids and to learn a skill without me. Additionally, the classes that require parent participation have kids are invariably younger than him and less skilled than him. This is where the words "DELAY" and "Did you forget?" start blinking in neon lights in my head.

Spencer's ABA therapist asked me, "What does your gut tell you?" My gut said that these classes were just going to be a hassle. My gut knew this last week but didn't have the nerve to tell me until the therapist asked me the same question. While it's true that we might see progress eventually, it will be too tiring and stressful for us to be a shadow teacher in every class hoping that maybe... just maybe he'll let us go and pay attention on his own.

I also want what other NT kids mom have: a BREAK!!!!! I am so jealous of all those parents that sit on the sidelines, look at their blackberries, watch their kids with peaceful faces, and even read a book while their kid has a lesson!!!! I do not know such luxury but somehow will not give up this dream.

Thus, I've decided that if these grants will allow it, I will get Spencer private swim lessons too. He actually kind of really needs them because he is so great at moving around in the water that I can hardly keep up with him and yet he doesn't really know what to do when his face goes under the water a bit and he swallows some water. Not good.... not good at all. Dry drowning is very real.

On a brighter note. Logan's swim lessons are still going well. I think he can really be a great swimmer someday and his coach is a wonderful person. We are really blessed. On top of that, we took him ice skating for the first time this weekend and he blew me away.

First we watched some YouTube videos the night before so that I could explain to him that falling is okay and that everyone does it. I also watched the video to teach myself how to skate again and how to teach him to get back up when he falls down. I can't say this enough. I love YouTube!

When we finally got to the ice, he was so excited. In the first 20 minutes, he must have fallen 50 times but he never once complained and then within an hour he was pulling me across the ice. One thing I did notice was that as the rink became more crowded, he started to shut down. He's not good with crowds. Surprise. Surprise. The Overstimulation Monster is always stalking us.

He stopped skating and he just stood in the middle of the rink. Luckily, I figured why he became so out-of-it and then gave him tasks to do like, "go to the poster, touch it and come back." We did this about four times and then he had no problem skating along with the traffic and did it until we left. Another thing that helped was that he had a friend at the rink with him even though they didn't spend that much time skating together.

I am already eyeing ice skates at But I think I will just tell my brother that Logan will go crazy to get ice skates for Christmas and my brother will agree to get them instantly. I think he would prefer to get that over a Jr. Ball-n-Sit Chair (which looks way cooler than ice skates, but only to me).

I also hope skating helps with sensory processing as well. However, for us, it was just the greatest self-esteem builder, I have ever seen. I loved seeing him so proud of himself. FINALLY!!!! Now, I just gotta figure out if he can partipate in a skating class with other kids..... hmmmm.... kind of scared of that one but can not give up trying, right? Someday.... we'll be there.

A link to a speed skater (roller blades) who has special needs. Awesome kid!

Video: I didn't know what to tell Logan to teach him to skate better but I flagged a guard down and begged him for a tip. He said to keep your knees bent and lean forward and so that is why I am so annoyingly telling him to do exactly that. I had nothing else to say.

P.S. 11/25/09 Logan's OT at school was happy to hear about Logan's ice skating success. She said, "Ice skating is another great activity that addresses overall strength, balance, motor planning, and sequencing." Try it out and good luck!


Karen Griffith Gryga said...


You are awesome!! You keep on trying to figure out creative ideas and you just keep on trying!! You are resilient and you are a fighter. Your kids are very lucky to have you. I know you want and desperately need a break and a rest -- it will happen. With everything you are doing now -- it will happen. Congratulations on the skating -- awesome!


Bobbie said...

Keep trying. I say that to muself too. One day I will, or may not, find something that my son enjoys and the key thing is to have the other kids enjoy him being there. I too have gone through many activities, my husband thinks I try too hard.

Melanie said...

Our sensory gym has a SN martial arts class. here is the brochure