A Magical Combination & A Swimming Buddy: 10-19-11

Angelfish Rocks: Our daughter apparently had a mighty fine time at her first full-fledged Angelfish swim lesson last evening. Her ABD staff told me she worked well with her new swim buddy, a young gentleman of similar age who welcomed companionship in the pool. I am thrilled. They did laps and jumping jacks and whatever else, and when she wearied, her instructor Cindy cajoled her into doing more. I expect to see results including greater stamina and safety in the pool and perhaps some posture and strength improvement which will likely enhance her horseback riding and overall skeletal and muscular strength.

A Magical Combination: Something wonderful is happening here. Before our daughter went to boarding school at age sixteen,  six years ago, she resisted participating in most of the useful and fun activities that were offered to her, no matter whether they were for special needs or typical peers. As I have noted in past posts, Special Olympics swimming, creative dance, swim lessons, gymnastics, basically everything but  horse back riding (perhaps related to her love for animals,)  which she usually was up for, but not always, were met with equal defiance and getting our daughter to activities wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was generally horrific, a terrible emotional dynamic for the whole family.  Riverview, her special education boarding school, changed all that. Six years of constant activity must have reworked her wiring and now she thrives on the variety and stimulation of her new life because of its “active” quality. Hence, my yearnings that she improve her swimming skills, her riding skills, her social skills, her work-out skills (I am pretty keen on her having as healthy a body and a life style as possible) combined with my ability to access so many wonderful programs now that she is back in our area, are joyfully being fulfilled. Ability Beyond Disability is more than happy to take my suggestions and make them work, and perhaps the absence of mom as the facilitator of all these activities is a component of our daughter finally recognizing the merits of the active life style.

Home?  One wonders if all would regress back to pre Riverview form if our daughter had returned to the parental home for any significant amount of time. “Regression?” Perhaps. But fortunately we will never know. The fear of just such a “regression” was one of the motivators in the effort to put in place residential and all other programming as soon as possible. But even were she to live at home, Ability Beyond Disability would have provided day and vocational programming with the accompaniment of qualified staffing. Structure, imposed from outside the family, seems key.

Surprise Cookies: Our daughter called this afternoon absolutely gleeful because her great-aunt and great-uncle sent her a container full of  delectable chocolate chip cookies. She had a good laugh when the staff person with whom she was opening the box, squealed “Oh, I have always wanted a clip-on-fan”  as the label on the carton suggested, only to be surprised by the yummies that resided within. She waxed on humorously, describing that moment when her staff squealed and the box revealed the surprise cookies inside.

Amongst the jewels imbedded in life with our special needs child is the one that shimmers and glows; her unabashed enthusiasms of youth. 

©Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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