Tag Archives: Sensory Processing

Tiggers are made for bouncing

 

tigger10

I sat on the crowded bleachers overlooking the floor at our local gymnastics center, leaning forward and cricking my neck so I could keep an eye on my little dude, one of 5 boys in the beginning gymnastics class and one of about 40 kids down on the floor at the time.

I marveled for a moment that we were even there, in such a large place which was completely unfamiliar to him. The concrete building echoed with the noise of so many kids practicing all at once, and although the chaos was organized, it was still busy and loud. At one time it would’ve been overwhelming for him to even be in the building, let alone willingly and happily participating by himself in a class.

He told me the night before how scared he was to go but when the time came and the instructors gathered up their classes he excitedly followed the rest of the boys into the gym, bobbing along with his goofy, enthusiastic bounce-walk.

A preschool teacher once described him as always having a “spring in his step and a song in his heart”. In taekwondo they told him to stand still and stop bouncing. Those are two things that my little guy just doesn’t do.

Twice a week for two years we shuffled off to taekwondo. We thought it would be good for him, help him to focus and burn some energy. And, he wanted to be a ninja.

But his mind was always somewhere else and he rather quickly lost his enthusiasm and got bored with it. Eventually I realized that the only reason we were still going was because I was insisting on it, which seemed silly, especially because I had started to dread going as well.

I had stopped watching him in class at taekwondo.  When I did I felt like I had to explain to other parents about his delayed motor skills and sensory processing challenges that make it hard for him to pay attention and learn and control his body like other kids. Then I would feel guilty for feeling embarrassed and I’d come down hard on myself for it.

Taekwondo felt like trying to contort him into a shape that his soul was never meant to take. Why force my joyful, silly, fun-loving, march-to-his-own-beat, little man to stop bouncing? So instead we decided on gymnastics where we could put a spring-board beneath his feet and see how high he could soar.

Also, he still wants to be a ninja and learn to do back-flips off of walls.

Watching him down on the mat, practicing cartwheels, my heart fluttered with love and pride. Not because he was nailing them but because he wasn’t yet he kept trying, one after another, after another. I was proud of him for being him, for being there, for showing up and for trying even though it was hard. I reveled in his enthusiasm and how incredibly hard he works at even the smallest things that most of us take for granted.

And then he landed one, his face beaming with excitement and accomplishment and l wanted to stand-up and cheer – it was as if he had just stuck a perfect landing in an Olympic moment- because for him, it was that big.

After class he asked me, “Mom, did you see me do that cartwheel!?”

I told him, “I sure did baby, and I loved watching you!”

~“Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs.”

Muchly inspired by this post from the ever-wise Rachel Macy Stafford. ❤

 

 

 


What makes you special?

I’m so proud of this little guy and I don’t even know him! This is courage. Standing up and speaking out about his condition, advocating for himself…if only we all had such strength and bravery.

He’s only in the 4th grade and understands something that many of us do not, that it’s okay to be different. I love that he embraces his Asperger’s syndrome and recognizes it not as a handicap but as a gift.

I came across this video at the perfect time.

This morning I dropped my son off at Kindergarten and, as I usually do, stood and watched him as he and his classmates ran around the schoolyard prior to going inside.

The other kids played tag and chased each other back and forth. My son did his own thing. He threw himself down in the gravel repeatedly, rolling around and laughing with his little sister. Occasionally he would turn around and watch as a classmate ran by, once or twice he tagged along behind one of them for a moment, not really engaging in their play, then he would split off and go back to the gravel.

At one point a girl came up to him and stood there watching him. Rather than saying “hi” or making some other form of civilized conversation he spit gravel out of his mouth, spittle running down his chin, laughed, did a silly dance, and threw himself back down into the gravel. The girl shrugged and ran off to play with the other kids.

Determined not to hover or intervene I watched from a distance with my heart in my tummy and a lump in my throat. Every fiber of my being wanted to go over to him, wipe the drool from his chin, tell him to stop playing in the gravel and coach him on how to play ‘appropriately’ with his classmates. But I knew that would only undermine his confidence and bring even more attention to his differences.  So I stood with my feet planted and I quietly wilted inside.

I came home feeling depressed and defeated. I had visions in my head of him going through school as an outcast, being made fun of by other kids who don’t understand him, not being invited to birthday parties and being the last one picked for games in gym class.

My heart ached for my sweet boy who doesn’t fit in. I determined that I needed to find him some social skills classes and get him involved in some activities at the recreation center.

Then Hartley Steiner of Hartley’s Life With 3 Boys posted the above video on her facebook page.

This little boy reminded me that the things that make us different also make us special and helped me to realize that I shouldn’t try to squash them out of my son in order to fit him into a mold to be like other children. Why in the world would I want him to be just like everyone else anyway!? After all, isn’t it the imperfections that make us beautiful? How can I celebrate a crack in a vase but not celebrate my son for his Sensory Processing Disorder? Sure, he may never fit in but I would much rather him stand out – no, stand UP and proudly proclaim that YES he is imperfect and that’s a good thing.

I will continue to advocate for him and help him build the skills that he needs to get by in the world but I believe that it’s now time for me to also teach him how to advocate for himself and to be proud of himself and own his limitations so they don’t end up owning him.

So ask yourself, what makes you special?

“There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen