Monday, April 22, 2013

Going at his Pace

I remember finding out about a local baseball league that is specifically for children with special needs. I looked forward to Dean being on a team like that, although at the same time, I wondered if assuming that he would go to a special needs team was underestimating him. Bob and I decided that we would figure it out as time went on, just like we have with everything else.

Two recent experiences have brought this issue to the forefront lately. As part of the special ed. Pre-K class that Dean attends, they went to the Little Feet Meet sponsored by Special Olympics VA. This event was a big deal, and we didn't even see what the older kids did. The Pre-K kiddos had their own "events" that they rotated through before having lunch. It was exceptionally cute. Dean was able to do most of the events on his own, but he needed some reminders to pay attention, and some extra motivation was needed as well. He liked to do his own thing. :)

I've also already told you about the special needs soccer league that Dean is doing. Finally got some pictures:

It is very unstructured, but Dean has gotten to the point where he'll play with his "buddy" for about half the time before moving on to whatever else. There is a wide variety of abilities, attention spans, and compliance among the athletes there, so Dean fits right in. He actually has a great kick and can dribble the ball across the field, but he lacks the confidence, motivation, and endurance to go to the next step.

Could we put Dean in a "regular" league with typically developing peers? Sure, but these two experiences have been so valuable. He's with kids who move at and appreciate his pace, and he is still being challenged.

Reflecting on all this made me realize that Cole and Emmett are the perfect brothers for Dean. Cole is so very patient with Dean and Emmett helps Dean and cheers him on. Today at the playground at church, they came alongside Dean as he climbed this structure and stayed at his pace. Makes a momma's heart so happy. :)

At swimming lessons, the instructor is bringing in Cole for the last 5-10 minutes of Dean's lesson to motivate him. Dean immediately perks up and starts kicking and doing whatever is asked of him. Instant motivation. :) 

And when we were at a birthday party yesterday with some good friends, Dean felt comfortable enough to bust it out on the roller rink... errr, dance floor. 

So, special needs or not, it is clear that Dean is going to flourish most where he is comfortable. Isn't that how it is for most of us? We do what works, not what is "supposed to" work or what everyone else says is beneficial. As always, Dean goes at his own pace. Our boys know what that looks and feels like and Bob and I are even learning, too. I am so thankful that God is teaching all 5 of us to grow in love for each other by finding our common rhythm. Thank you, Dean. :)

1 comment:

Giulia said...

My two cents as an adult with SN.

I want to say to parents that the "SN league" or "regular league", the label by itself does not matter. Really.
The label by itself does not matter.
What is most important is for your child being happy going to.

After, some children with SN fare better in a regular league, other in a SN league.
More than the label, it depends most on the people who run the league. Some SN leagues are great for a child X but not so for the child Y, and a regular league can be great for the child with SN A but not for the child with SN B.

So, Ali, what I think from your post is that worrying about the label does not bring Dean anywhere.
Also, as his needs change, you'll be able to figure out what is best for his needs in the moment.
When Dean becomes older, if he can be part of a regular team and is happy, it's ok ; if it's a SN team, that's ok too. You will see when the question will present.

As you seemed to realize, the label "SN" or "regular" does not matter most. What matters most is how Dean fares, and be it if the league is for SN ! :-)

I would not worry that much :-)