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Wax on, wax off.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Parenting a child with special needs makes each day so … so … well, so unpredictable.

In the 18 months since Beernut’s diagnosis, I have spent a considerable amount of time familiarizing myself about spectrum disorders and becoming his de facto case manager. Therapies, direct services, medication, and so forth. Though some parents are uncomfortable with a diagnosis, fearing that their child will be “labeled,” I have found that an entire world opened up to us once we were able to understand why Beernut behave like … well…like, Beernut!

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the martial arts can be very thereputic for kids on the spectrum with its concentration on self-control, spatial awareness, and motor planning. All areas of weakness for many of these kids!

Now you need to understand that the total sum of our familial athletic prowess resides in JockGiraffe — hence his very appropriate moniker. He loves all things sports-related and can even make an impressive showing on the court or field. So as far as Beernut is concerned, it’s not as if he is surrounded by a bunch of sportos. However, PC had certainly hoped that Beernut would be able to make it through a school yard game without incurring any trauma. As for me, I suppose the kid needs to know enough to participate in age-appropriate activities. But I am far more impressed with the fact that he likes to dissect sentences into subject and predicate as well as contemplating multiplication facts.

So after much investigation, I found what I believed would be just the right class for Beernut. We are so fortunate that our local children’s hospital runs a karate program for people with special needs. Using karate as a backdrop, the Sensei boosts the kids’ self-esteem, works on motor planning, sensory processing skills, and social skills. A class with an instructor who would understand Beernut?? Priceless!!

To prepare Beernut for new or potentially uncomfortable situations, we spend time front-loading him using social stories, role play, and expectations. Taking the time (and it sometimes requires a LOT of repetition) to practice social situations often contributes to his success in what might otherwise be a disastrous situation. So I mentioned to him a few days ago that he would be trying karate over this weekend.

Karate? That’s not my thing.

[“Not my thing.” What an odd response.]

“Beernut, what makes you think that it’s not your thing?”

Well, first of all, you know I am not very strong. And you know that I don’t like sports. And you know that I’m scared.

And that is what it comes down to. In fact, that’s ALWAYS what it comes down to. Fear.

Fear of the unknown is a perfectly normal emotion. In Beernut’s case, however, it is paralyzing. Lurking around the corner could be a spider because he once saw a spider and now worries incessantly about them. Hiding in the bushes could be a panther. Under the cover of shadows might be an intruder.

“Hey Beernut, you might feel safer staying in bed,” I drily suggested once.

Not really, Mom. The ceiling fan could detach and slice off my head.

You get the point.

Anyway, realizing that this class was going to do more good than harm, I forced him to go. I did give him a reasonable choice. He could choose which parent would take him. He choose Daddy.

According to PC, it took nearly 15 minutes to DRAG Beernut down the hall, down to the basement of the hospital, and into the gym where the class was already underway. Beernut was totally and completely undone by the entire ordeal.

But in the end, he says that he liked it and liked Sensei Wayne and plans to return next week.

Lesson learned? I have not a clue. With a kid like Beernut, I can’t always be sure that forcing him to do something is the right move. I once forced him to take a “Mommy and Me” skating class — which he referred to as the “worst day of his life.” Like for over a year.

Remember on the worst day of my life? The day that you made me take that class?

It’s all a bunch of trial and error. Some days more trial and some days more error. Just hope that in the end, it’s a wash.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jami V permalink
    Monday, 24 December 2007 10:52 am

    hey, i love the new look of the site!

  2. Frume Sarah permalink
    Monday, 24 December 2007 1:46 pm


  3. Monday, 31 December 2007 4:10 pm

    I know it isn’t supposed to be, but I find that a cute and precious story. What a great kid.

    As much as I hate to break it to you, doing karate won’t turn him into a jock. After all, you ran a marathon and I have a black belt and we still refer to JockGiraffe as the only one with sports sense in our family.

  4. Frume Sarah permalink
    Monday, 31 December 2007 5:26 pm

    I know, I know. PC is the only one holding out hope in that department!!

    I need to write a follow-up entry b/c Beernut had his 2nd class this weekend and it was AMAZING!!

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