It didn’t help that on Saturday we hit another roadblock with integrating Alex with his peers. I had signed him up for an integrated gymnastics program. Alex is pretty active and has an amazing sense of internal balance. He need regular activity and we’ve been racking our brains to find sports which are high energy and not team-based (and which are open to his age group). Gymnastics is a natural choice (we’re also looking into track and field and swimming). My father competed in gymnastics when he was in college and has trained children before. He offered to go as Alex’s aide and coach. I was feeling pretty hopeful about it.
I hadn’t realized there were actually three or four classes happening at the same time in the gym, making it incredibly noisy and busy. I hadn’t realized all the equipment would be in use, not leaving Alex anywhere to go if he felt overwhelmed. He walked in, threw a twenty minute tantrum and then was brought out. Our money will be refunded.
There is a special needs gymnastics class and they’re willing to let Alex join if he brings an aide. My experience is that he has an even worse time in these special needs classes. The staff has been very optimistic but they usually are. I’m hoping I’m wrong.
It was very frustrating to have yet another example of his tantrums closing yet another door for him. They closed off his opportunity for integrated schooling. And now another opportunity gone. The gap between him and his peers is getting wider. It was one thing when he was four or five and everyone was running around. Now when his peers go to class, they’re more focused and ready to learn.
When you have a special needs kids, these moments will periodically slap you in the face and shatter your impression of progress. If you don’t want to get trapped in a vicious blend of bitterness and anger, it’s important to let yourself feel the emotions in the moment. So I’m angry, but it’s okay. I’ll let it run its course and then it’ll be over. I don’t need to feel guilty about it. Suppressing those feelings mean that you end up getting trapped in them.
Alex is who he is. I could try and force him into an image of what I want him to be but I’d just end up making us both miserable. All I can do is try and help him to overcome the obstacles he’s putting in his own way (like the tantrums). We’ve begun the medication to see if it will help. It’s too soon to tell anything yet. I love my little boy and at the end of the day, I want him to grow up to be happy and a productive member of society. I don’t want him to have to fight for every day of his life. I don’t want him to be institutionalized to protect himself and others. He may not ever be able to be independent, but if he’s happy and productive, I’ll be good with that.
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