One of the benefits of our new school is actually having a ‘day off’ for the boys. Last year, we had Fridays off from school but since there were no OT and Speech services offered at school, my wife and I would spend half of Friday at those services driving between two different elementary schools near us. This year, the boys’ new school has those services integrated with their class time so we finally got a full day off! Now, we just needed to figure out something to do in the free time.
We’ve got soccer until the weather gets cold and then we will pick that up again in the spring. We considered horseback lessons for the boys . . . something we both really want them to do. However, at $50 a lesson for both of them, we’d be spending $200 a month on horseback lessons. A little pricey for our budget. So, we look for alternatives and found that our local rec center has a boys gym class so we signed them up for that. . . . we figured it would be good reinforcement for their OT lessons and the boys were already comfortable with the Rec Center since it’s where we’d be swimming half of the summer. The class is weekly for 45 minutes and is about $30 a kid for a month . . . can’t really beat that.
I talked to the teachers prior to signing the boys up and had the boys observe at class – they were chomping at the bit to get involved (a great sign). The teachers told me that there would be a set routine of stretches and certain exercises the boys would perform weekly + some peer interaction. One of them commented that she knew a little on autism and that these routines would benefit the boys and help with their learning since it would be very repetitive and sequential. Seemed fair enough so we signed up.
The stretching routine is a nice warmup, gives the kids time to start listening to their instructor + some interaction with their neighbors. We then moved on to the ‘stations’ and some were difficult for them ~ somersaults, hanging by rings, tumbling, walking on a balance beam. These were all new to them. I wasn’t expecting the boys to using the equipment so fast but they loved it and it gave me ideas of things to work on at home.
The teachers picked up on the twins’ differences quickly and were smart to put them in two different groups so they wouldn’t get mixed up. I tried to help as much as I could . . . . I felt weird well first of all, I was the only dad and second, everyone else just sat on the side and watched their kid. I wasn’t sure if I should get on the mat and help but at the same time, I didn’t want all of the teachers’ attention monopolized on the boys so I tried to help at some stations.
As a dad, I had some trepidation when the teachers brought out the ribbons for the class. Having just watched the Olympic Gymnastics, I couldn’t see my boys running around with the ribbons. However, I think it turned out to be a great ‘cool down’ activity for the kids and really liked how the teachers used it. They had each boy stand on their ‘square’ again and would give directions like “make small circles with your right hand” . . . . “make your circle go up and down” . . . . . and gradually, those direction got tougher, “make big circles and now turn to your right. . . . . . ” That was great for the boys and the progressions were a definite plus to helping with their coordination and physical development.
I’ll admit, I get discouraged with some of the learning curves my boys have to go through. I asked one of the instructors if she felt the boys would be ok in the class and she was very nice ~ she said that most of the other boys had been in the class for a few weeks already and were comfortable with the routine and exercises. They all started somewhere and got better – my boys would be no different. I appreciated her honesty and support and feel very fortunate to have the boys in a great class. She also said I’m totally fine being on the mat helping the boys. I hope that after a few classes, the boys get it down and I’ll be hanging out on the sidelines with the other parents. 🙂
Tip of the Week: OK, so I kind of got away from this for a bit but I know it helps. I’ll have more ‘classroom’ type tips in two weeks when we start our volunteer schedule at the boys’ school. A few things I picked up from the gym class:
- Ribbons Twirling: OK – this was probably my biggest takeaway. They progressed from simple commands of ‘up and down’ to small and large circles, to turning in circles while making circles. It’ll be good for the boys’ coordination and direction following. While you don’t need a ‘ribbon’ for this, the procedure and developing on simple steps was great.
- Peer Imitation: The boys had to wait their turn at certain stations and watch other kids perform. At our departure mtg with the boys teachers last year, one mentioned that for high functioning kids, this will be where they can really grow – through peer modeling and interaction. She encouraged us to try out as many new activities as we could with the boys.
- Gymnastics: In general, I think this will be great for the boys. While it won’t work on some of the fine motor skills they will need, it will get them more familiar with their body, balance, and learning new activities. I’m glad we can attend!
Have a great week!
Our boys are on the U-5 “Yellow Jackets” Soccer Team. A few months back, the boys got to participate in the Red Devils Soccer Clinic for Autistic Kids that was totally awesome (click here and here for posts on the event). The boys had an absolute blast at the event and it was one of the highlights of their year. As a result, we decided to have some faith and put them in a soccer league.
We got an email about two months ago saying that because there weren’t enough coaches, the boys may not be on a team . . . . .a bit disappointing so we started thinking about secondary plans. However, a week later we got a call from “Coach Jason” who lives in our neighborhood and he said he’d be coaching the boys. I explained that we’d probably be at all the practices to help with the boys and explained the situation. He simply said, “Hey look, I’m in it to let the kids have fun so if that’s what you want, then let’s give it a shot.” Sounds good to me!
The boys LOVE their soccer shoes and uniform. Unfortunately, they can’t put on the shoes, shinguards, and socks by themselves so it takes some extra planning to get ready for practice and games but they are so excited. I teach piano in the late afternoons and my last lesson finishes as their practice starts. That means that I need to have them in their soccer outfits + water and everything ready two hours before their practice. The boys LOVE IT since they can wear their soccer outfits for the afternoon. They have their own little soccer balls, they know which number uniform they are supposed to wear, and they are having a blast.
I’m glad we have a friendly parent group and everyone is so supportive of each other. I think only Coach Jason knows that the boys are autistic and he’s really been phenomenal. He is actually in a congregation that meets at our LDS bldg a few hours before we do. The boys saw him in his suit at church and recognized him before I did! For those of you with autistic little ones, you’ll know that’s a major accomplishment!
We are three games into the season and really enjoying it (the team is 2-0-1 but we’re not supposed to keep score). Sometimes, the boys would rather sit on the side and watch other kids play DS and I’ve even had one walk off the field because “there is only one ball and all the kids are kicking it.” At least they are having fun . . . . and it’s been a great experience so far! We’ve had a few breakaways and a number of ‘almost’ goals but the most important thing is that they are excited and they are learning so much from this experience. GO YELLOW JACKETS!
Thought I’d repost this from our family blog site. Fun weekend!
It looks like the only time I really post on this blog is when we are doing a run. It’s been a little over 4 months since I injured my knee and while I think that my knee has come a long way, I also feel like I’ve hit a bit of a wall with my recovery – still some slight numbness in my shin, my hamstring is constantly tight, and I get slight pain and uncomfortableness in my knee.
I blew my knee out two days before the Color Me Radd run that my wife and daughter did so I was extremely excited to be able to go on The Color Run with them. We had some of our good friends with us and it was a great day! The kids did extremely well!
We ran into a family we know from our boys’ old autism program ~ they…
View original post 269 more words
I mentioned in our last post that we had a small get together on the boys actual birthday and we’d have the ‘bigger party’ for the weekend. In all honesty, it was a TON of work to have both and plan everything but at the same time, we luck out since we can knock out parties for two of our three kids at one time . . . pluses and minuses of being a twin I guess.
For those of you who have followed our blog for awhile (thank you so much), you’ll know that the boys LOVE Angry Birds. We came across this great post of an angry bird party and decided we should do one for the boys! Thanks for the inspiration and ideas!
We hung like 20 balloons in our gathering room and I bet most of them were down before the party was halfway done – they were a big hit and easy to make . . . . too a bit of ink though. 🙂
The boys and I searched high and low for these old school dodgeballs . . . I think they are called four square balls now? Anyway, we hit up four stores and couldn’t find them. My wife was great to stop at some stores by her work and we finally found some! She used acrylic paint and did the angry birds by hand.
One of the ‘sad parts’ of the planning process was deciding who to invite . . . because the boys had been commuting to school and also, with their autism, they really don’t have a lot of close friends around. Their best friends are ones that they met in school last year and are now, at three or four different schools across the valley. So, we decided to invite some of those friends + a few teachers as well. We’re also lucky the boys have two cousins who live relatively close by that we can see.
I think having any kind of party with close to 10 kids can be stressful but add in the fact that half of those ten had autism and. . . . . well . . . you just hope for the best. In all honesty, the party went exceptionally well! It was so nice to see how quickly the kids ‘regrouped’ with each other despite not seeing everyone for four months. Most of them had to make the dreaded “commute” that we did all of last year – with a major instate BYU vs. Utah fball game going on later that evening, we were very grateful for everyone who made the trek out.
We had a number of outdoor games for the kids to play. My wife’s company had recently moved to a new building so she brought some of those boxes home and we used green balloon piggies for the targets. The kids really enjoyed themselves and honestly, it was a great night – I think the party turned out better than we could’ve expected. Thanks to all those who play such an important role in our boys’ lives. We appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!
We are prepping for our weekend festivities. Stay tuned for more pics next week . . . this should be awesome!
I had a conversation once with a friend about where we were on 9/11 and how we will never forget that day. My wife and I were living in Japan and true to the conversation, I can remember exactly what I was doing when I first saw the news feed of the towers.
I am thankful for the freedom and life that I enjoy and thank those who protect that for me. I am beyond grateful and wish I could express how thankful I am for those blessings in my life. Now, 9/11 holds an even greater meaning for me since it’s the Boyz Bday. Now, it’s a remembrance of lives lost and lives started . . . a day of remembrance and a celebration of life.
We will hold some small festivities tonight for the boys with a small party on the weekend. It’s funny now that since both boys read calendars and are getting a better grasp on the concept of time, they have literally been counting down the days until today. There’s no way we could NOT do something today. Can you imagine being five and being told, “Hey no, you gotta wait until a more convenient time to celebrate your bday.” As they often tell me, “that would be a bad idea.”
It’s been a blast watching these two grow up and become best friends . . . well, and worst enemies somedays. I have days where I seriously question why our world got flipped upside down and now I’m the stay at home dad. However, I look at my relationship now with the boys and am grateful that I’ve had time at home with them . . . . that I’ve spent hours at school with them . . . . that I now have a better relationship with both of them. I NEVER would’ve had that if I hadn’t had this past year at home with them. For that, I’ll always be grateful. Interesting how things work out, no?
I love having these two in my life . . . I am lucky to be their dad . . . and I wish you two a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and a great year! I am honored to be your dad and love you more than you could ever know. Bday pics later! Time to get ready for a party! 🙂