Friday, November 4, 2011

Never underestimate me!

This is what I felt like when dealing with Alvin this week. I felt like when I knew what to expect from him he completely proved me wrong.

Monday night Alvin had a makeup class after missing last Wednesday. Since it was Halloween we knew there wouldn't be many kids there and I thought this would be great for him. Small class size normally means he does well.

Well as it turned out no one else showed up so Alvin ended up working with his teacher by himself. After about 10 minutes he started to panic a little and left Alex during the warmup. He told me he wanted to go home. I just reassured him that he was ok and to go back. With a little help / reassurance and a few mild tantrums during the class he made it through the full hour by himself. This is no easy task considering at times he was completely freaked out.

Later that night I finally figured something out. When Alvin is one on one with a teacher he is suddenly unsettled. He relies on other typical kids to watch and see how to act during class. When you take away the other kids he is lost. Don't get me wrong he loves his teachers and pays attention, but tends to learn from other kids as well.

Tuesday music therapy the true Alvin came out again but once again we worked through it and when we left he even yelled out the window "See you next week Teacher Jesse!"

By Wednesday I had started to doubt him a little. It occurred to me sometime between Monday and Tuesday that probably with in the next year or so Alvin's time in gymnastics would come to an end. Kids with Asperger's syndrome and autism in general tend to have poor motor skills. Team or individual sports tend to not be their strong point. So while I had always hoped Alvin would be involved in a sport like I had been the realization that he might not be just hit me.

Then Wedneday night came.  Before class I had talked to Alex about how Alvin would probably only be there another year before leaving. The worry is that at some point the skill gap will be too much and he will start to notice and want to leave. Alex ackknowledged that by the age of 7 or so kids who just want to have fun normally leave and do other things.

Class started and the 3 other little girls between the ages of 4 and 5 were there right on time and they all went in together. These girls in some ways have adopted Alvin. They know he is different but they try their best to befriend him and encourage him just like anyone else.

During the warmup something clicked with him. He was asked to do a monkey jump (start of a cartwheel) over a rope on the floor. Normally he wouldn't even attempt it but that night he did and he did it correctly! The look on Alex's face was great. He was shocked as well that he actually did it.

The rest of the class the pattern continued. He worked harder than normal for the full hour. He listened better than he ever had before and started to try and conquer new skills. After class his teacher was so happy for him. He even told me that one of the girls noticed the differnece and made the comment that Alvin was actually listening.

This is the night where Alvin once again taught me a lesson.

 I can not judge the future for him right now or any day in any shape or form.

Alvin may never be at the same level as kids his age, but does it matter? I mean this and all sports should be about having fun and I guess I lost sight of that. Alvin adores Alex and the other teachers in the gym. He adores the atmosphere and ability to be himself. He loves trying new skills and giving his teachers hi 5's and espeically saying hi and bye before and after class.

One day all the skills he is doing just may click in his head and then again they may not. The thing that Alvin taught me this week is to not worry about it. He will continue to have fun in the gym and suprise us all when we least expect it.

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