The boys have been preparing for and anxiously waiting for their Gymnastic Show that happened this past Saturday. We’ve had the boys in gym class for the past 6-7 months and while it has been a struggle at times, it has definitely paid off for the boys. During the first classes, we had breakdowns every few minutes . . . tears from each every class . . . and I was ready to just call it quits each time we went. However, here we are six months later and I can leave the class for 15 minutes and come back and both boys are still happy. Wow . . . . .
I can’t remember who suggested we try a gym class but the lead teachers at this class have been exceptional. When I approached the main instructor about the boys and mentioned their autism, she suggested putting the boys in a morning class since it would only have a handful of students, and I’d be able to watch and help (if needed) in the morning – the afternoon classes are ‘drop off only’ since the classes are so full and the noise level is tough to tolerate. . . . not to mention the chaos of having so many kids doing different activities at once. She said the boys will probably do well in the ‘structure’ of gymnastics but have to learn to deal with other students since they are all waiting for a turn.
Sure enough, we’ve had our challenges . . . . excited little boys tend to ‘skip’ stations and both of our boys get very upset when some of their classmates do that. We’ve had bumps and small run-ins, one twin being picked to ‘lead’ the class and the other doesn’t . . . all of these are ‘real life’ things that they will have to deal with and while it has caused tears and frustration, it has gotten considerably better over the course of the year.
The gym classes have focused on a number of skills (hopping, somersaults, pullups, balancing, etc) that the boys are working on in their APE (Assisted PE) classes and I’ve noticed that they’ve progressed at school as a result of their gym class. I’ve been trying to get to class a few minutes early so the boys can run around and talk with the other kids . . . it has been fun to watch their play and interaction with others. They are now SO EXCITED to go to the gym and from a parent’s point of view, it’s considerably less stressful. :)
I do get a little defensive when I hear other boys tell my boys to ‘hurry up’ but I know that’s just little kids being little kids. I also know I get anxious and nervous when I see how good some of the kids pick things up and how long it’s taken my boys to do a fraction of it. . . . . However, I remember something I learned serving a LDS Mission when I was 19. I was talking to my mission president (our adult leader) about a particular missionary in my area that just couldn’t / wouldn’t focus on certain activities that were expected of missionaries. After venting my frustration, my mission president calmly told me that sometimes, we need to consider how far someone has come. It’s easy to hold everyone to the same standard and get frustrated when people don’t meet that expectation . . . however, sometimes we need to take a step back and realize how far people have come . . . .and how much work it’s taken some people to get to where they are.
I think of that conversation often with my boys and realize, they really have come so far and they both exhibit so much courage in a world that is considerably different than and exponentially more difficult to navigate than when I was little. As they stood on the podium raising their hands and receiving their medals, I couldn’t help but realize that these two little boys have come so far . . . . do so well . . . and are examples to me in so many ways. . . . proud day. Thanks boys for being my idols. I love you both and want you to know that just like I watch and cheer you on during your performance, I will do that every day of your life. It’s a privilege to be your dad.