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.  


Cortny Barnes said...

Amen to that!!!

Sid said...

Thank you for sharing your insight. The clarity of your vision prods my empathy.