Saturday, June 21, 2014

Highlight

Our YMCA was offering an eight week gymnastics program for little kiddos so my husband and I started to think it over.  Running around, jumping, and tumbling would all be things CJ would totally dig.  I started talking to the staff there about it.  How many instructors would there be?  What are their qualifications?  Are they patient?  How many students would there be?  Would there be any other special needs kiddos in the class?  After a lot of reassuring from the Y staff, we decided to give it a go.  After all, he needs to be exposed to new challenges to grow, just like the rest of us.
Here We Go
So on March 8th I took him to his first class.  There were seven or eight students total and CJ was the only child with autism.  At the start we had to take off shoes and socks.  CJ didn't want to = Fight #1.  Then they were required to each stand in their own black box in a line.  CJ didn't want to = Fight #2.  Then they were supposed to take some laps around the gym, CJ didn't want to at first, but as the kids got away from him, he decided that it looked like fun and he chased after them = yay!  After the warm up laps it was back to the start, stand in a line and listen to instructions = hard for CJ.  The instructor was describing the circuit and what the kids were supposed to do.  CJ did stand in line and wait for his turn, but they did the same circuit three times, and he quickly decided which were his favorite parts and which were not.  During his non-preferred parts he delighted in running away from the instructor who (probably shouldn't have) gave chase.  I asked the head instructor how involved she wanted me to be, and she replied, "Not.  The less, the better."  I had no idea if she knew what was going on, if she had any heads-up about CJ's diagnosis, or any experience with kiddos like CJ.  But I slinked back to my seat, and felt all eyes on me as CJ took off grinning, yet again, while the instructor gave chase.  And I started to cry.  Are situations like this always going to highlight the differences between my son and "typical" kids?  I didn't like feeling that way, and I was embarrassed for tearing up like I did.  I decided to shake it off, hold up my head, and focus on my son, who was bravely crossing the balance beam.

Brave Boy
My son has autism.  It may be that social situations will always remind me of that because he is not wired to think like you or I.  When in a room with typical children, his behavior makes him stand out, his differences are highlighted.  But who says differences have to be a negative thing?  I think differences can be quite beautiful.  If CJ ever lets you get close to him, you'll notice a lot of other things that deserve to be highlighted.  He loves to sing.  Letters, numbers, colors, and shapes are cool to him.  He memorizes book and movie lines, and was able to speak those before he had any meaningful speech.  He is very upset if his little sister is sad.  And he is incredibly sweet and affectionate.  Its these kind of wonderful things about him that I should allow to get the highlights.

Steady now!
So I will chose to highlight those differences.  Whenever, wherever I can, I'm going to help him show the world what makes him so beautiful and special.  Different is almost always beautiful, if you know where to apply the highlights.

2 comments:

  1. Cullen is so lucky to have you! And this is beautiful and of course I am crying! Love your blogs, all of them, but the ones about Cullen especially!

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  2. I know that certain things may make him stand out and you definitely are right in embracing it. For even though there are things that may negatively stick out, there are MUCH MUCH MORE that are positive. You are so blessed to have a kind hearted, gentle person to call your son. He is just as blessed to have you as a mother. And always remember, EVERY parent has been brought to tears at some point. There is no shame in shedding a few tears. Your kiddos are SO loved.

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