A long time ago my husband W and I met working at the US Space and Rocket Center. When we were dating we had the same job, Space Camp/Aviation Challenge Counselors. We had kids all week every week during the summer. We saw all types of kids. The ones that thier parents had all the money and were just there to play, the kids who confided in us because their home life was bad and they were there because thier parents didn't want them at home. We saw kids in every kind of situation you could imagine. We did our best to have fun with them but when you are working team doubles (6am until 11pm) 5 days a week it drains you.
But then for 2 weeks in the summer you are in love with your job again. There are the two weeks that the visually impared and hearing impared students come through camp. These kids don't get a free ride. They have to work so hard in school to even qualify and then they get the chance to come. Teaching these kids at times was a challenge. Helping a visually impared kid see a monitor required some resourceful thinking and sometimes braille. As W can attest to taking them diving in the underwater astronaut trainer is even more fun! The hearing impared kids they were fun too. They were so much fun in thier own way too.
One thing working with those kids taught me was how rewarding it can be to work with special needs kids. Granted many of these kids didn't have developmental issues but they still had tons of challenges to overcome just to get there. Once they were there they worked hard and played even harder. In some small way I started to understand and appreciate what they did and how hard they worked.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about those kids. One night W and I were talking and I compared watching Alvin succeed at something to those kids. When any child overcomes a challenge you are proud of the accomplishment. When you see a nero-typical child get things so easy it can really kill you inside. When I watch Alvin at the gym its heart breaking some nights. I see how hard he is trying. I see him making an effort. Then I see him fail at times. I see the look in his eyes when the colors and sounds get too much and he just spaces out. There are so many of these moments and I do my best to hold it together around the other parents.
Then there are the nights where it clicks. The nights where his attention span is better and he stays with the group. The nights where he tries something new with less hesitation. The times when he does a skill that the other kids may have gotten months ago inside I cheer. I see his teachers light up because they know he has worked so hard.
I appreciate Alvin and what he does like I appreciated the visually and hearing impaired kids. I know that in so many ways he is going to have to work twice as hard as most kids. I know its going to be rough road but I know it will be worth it!