Monday, January 20, 2014

Gymnastics Lessons

Mikan attended a birthday party yesterday held at a local gymnastics center.  Most of the parents dropped their children off at the party since there were organized events hosted by the center.  I stayed behind with a few others to help Mikan participate.  He loved all of the different stations and obstacle courses (balance beam, vault, bars, trampolines, etc.), but he would not have been able to participate in everything the other kids did had I not been there helping him through much of it.  For example, he couldn't crawl out of the "marshmallow" pit without help.  He couldn't climb on some of the ladders and higher obstacles either.  I was planning on signing him up for gymnastics lessons at the same gym through the local center that organizes activities for children with developmental disabilities, and this party was an opportunity to get a glimpse of the facility.

Below are some lessons I learned from this party:

  • Most of Mikan's classmates ignore him in high-energy settings with a lot of opportunities for physical activity.  He can't keep up with them, and they have no interest in engaging with him.  I'm guessing this is what recess usually looks like.
  • Mikan does well in group eating environments.  They served pizza and chocolate cake at the party.  He ate several bites of pizza crust and chocolate cake.  No prompting.  No encouragement.
  • Mikan's interests are still sometimes random and this turns off some kids.  For example, he kept asking his peers in line around him to check out his football jersey he was wearing.  One girl just gave him a weird look and ignored him (just completely turned away).  When he later asked the same girl if he could try the rings after her, she responded, "These will be too hard for you." 
  • There are people his age patient enough and nice enough who will promote his interest in social relationships.  When Mikan asked a second girl to check out his jersey, she gave him a very animated response with how much she liked it and even circled around behind him to look at the back.  She also cheered for him when he was completing some obstacles.
  • I am grateful of the opportunity Anica and Drexler will have to grow up with someone who has a physical disability.  It is my dearest hope that they learn to treat everyone with dignity and defend the rights of those cast aside by society.  I completely understand that young kids typically do not know how to act appropriately around peers with disabilities, but I can still hope that Mikan's influence will help his siblings learn to be more like girl #2 and not girl #1.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What's What?

It is hard for me to observe Mikan and not try to figure out why he does what he does.   Right now my mind puts behaviors into one of three categories...Because he's Mikan, because he's autistic, or because he has CP.

I am not sure if this is a fair or right thing to do, my mind just does it.  So here are some of those observations I'm recording here to let you know what he's up to.  

Because he's Mikan
He wants to take off all coats, jackets, sweatpants whenever we get inside from being outside (regardless of the temperature in the house-I often turn off the heat before we go out).   The conversation usually goes like this.
"Dad it's hot in here, I'm going to take off my jacket and pants."
I respond, "Oh, so we don't need to turn the thermostat up from 61 degrees, we can keep it there."
Mikan's response, "No, turn it to 70"
Me "How about 68"
Mikan "No, 2 more, 70"
Me "68, you said it was hot"

He wants to wrestle me and be lifted on up on my feet.
He looks forward to school, riding the bus, and swim school.

My gut/heart tells me everything should really be in this (Because he's Mikan) category, but that's how my mind treats it.

Because he's Autistic: 
Wants to wear jerseys or shirts with numbers on them all of the time.
Wants to draw timers or calendars.
Never introduces himself by saying his name.  He will not say, "My name is Mikan."
Wants to search for clocks/timers at Goodwill.
Wants to take something with him where ever he goes.  "Come on Mikan, let's go."  "No, wait. I need to bring something."
He looks at people eating ice cream and pizza as if they are crazy for liking to eat those things.
-But then I remind myself that I didn't wear shorts until I was in upper elementary school, because I demanded that I wore sweatpants.

Because of CP:
Opts to stay inside instead of going for walk on a day it gets up to 40 degrees.
Needs extra help at swim lessons getting in and out of the pool.