Saturday, June 24, 2006

Whoo-hoo! A Little Bliss!

We just started two fantastic activities, both of which all of the kids can participate in. First, I learned that a colleague gives swimming lessons in the summer. She's a special ed teacher in another district and completely comfortable with both autism and having a TSS in the pool with my son. So, off we all went on Wednesday. Abby had a blast. Samson discovered that, while he likes being in the water well enough, he's still unhappy to have it in his face (working on fixing that). And Bird was highly intrigued! He wandered around the side of the pool and was clearly trying to figure out how to get in. When Corey, his TSS, lifted him into the pool and dipped him to his ankles, Bird's face lit up! By the end of the 30 minutes, he was allowing the teacher to pull him through the pool and was still so very happy.

The other activity is theraputic horseback riding. It is run through Shining Stars, just outside of Gettysburg. It's designed for special needs people of any age. Siblings can participate as helpers or walkers or even as riders if a spot is open. Back in March, the program had filled up on the first day of registration - we were number one on the waiting list and have been called to fill in twice over the last two weeks when other riders couldn't make it. The first time Bird saw the horses, he was moved by them. He got a sly grin on his face as he ran his fingers along the fence and made his cooing sound. Then he pet one and fed it a carrot. He was hooked. Nice to know yesterday that we now have a permanent spot. Every Friday through the end of August, he gets to ride. And I'm impressed with both the volunteers' dedication and the program director's knowledge. She even figured out that Bird had already started to take the easy road when he used the regular saddle on his first visit. He relaxed into it and just mellowed. She wanted to see how she could keep him connected, so she switched him into something called a Sur (cir? sir?) saddle. It's simply a leather strap around the horse's body with a few metal rings. He's essentially riding bare-back. To stay on, he had to hold on to those rings and pay attention. He was still happy and smiling and loving his riding hat, but now he seemed much more of a participant in the riding rather than a simple passenger. I'm looking forward to a terrific summer!

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