Wednesday, January 19, 2011

it ended up

i have to write the conclusion to the day- because it was pretty great.
i have to write about the view from the sky- the important stuff- that happens when not planned- when you're not asking for it, or even looking for it-when you might be feeling withered, because it's God's gift- it's grace.

after singing 'raindrops on roses' a few times- and starting to feel not so bad- i loaded zoe in the car to get her brother and get some things done- boring things- like the oil changed and the car's emissions test-things that are easy to avoid, especially when withered.  but i thought about endurance- and getting on with ones life- and off we went.

58$ and a couple of service station snack items later- we picked up the middle child- and headed off to 'our gym'.  our gym is 'sensations therafun'.  a place started by a schoolmate of zoe's dad- for kids with challenges- kids with autism-kids with sensory issues- kids who might make a scene at an indoor play area- and all are welcome.  there's a store with books and resources and sensory regulating toys- like weighted vests and fidgets.  there are special bikes and trikes, a climbing wall, trampolines, rope mazes to climb, spinning seats, monkey bars and an 'engine' room- a dark, calm spot with curtains made of strings of colored lights and a large bubble tube with changing lights and tactile things and bean bags- great for kids on the spectrum or people who've been smoking things. (interesting... possible insight).

anyway- my kids LOVE this place, all three of them- thus "our gym".

zoe almost always knows someone there, a kids she's done camp with, or school with, or met in an after school program.  she has an uncanny ability to remember faces and names- so i'm always surprised when no one looks familiar, and she knows their name and their parents name and where and when she met them.

today she found a girl (who i'll call lia) whom she'd last seen at the gym about a year ago.  a girl her age with autism.  zoe has become fascinated with autism.  she wants to know what it is, why a child has it, what's hard for them and how she can help.  she has asked me before if she has autism, or if it's similar to nonverbal learning disorder.  i try to reflect the question back to her- do you think it's similar?  what do you have in common with kids with autism?  what is different?  because i'm seriously curious about her take on it.  and, i don't have a lot of answers.

so this girl is there with her babysitter, a guy who's known her well for years, about 6 years.  they are about to leave- but zoe is really trying to play with her- to engage her- to get her to stop running away.  i'm busy with the boys, but keep seeing zoe chasing her around the gym- and the girl does look happy.  after a little while, i see them together on the trampoline and i go over and speak with the sitter.  i began to apologize for zoe's persistence.

no, he says.  it's great.  zoe told me that she can sense that lia wants to play. she knew that lia just needed some time and she was right.  look at them! he said.

i looked- they were smiling. zoe was calm, as was lia.  they finished jumping and ran some more- now lia following zoe.  they went into the engine room- zoe talking (of course) the whole time- asking her questions, waiting, and not bothered if lia didn't respond right away. she showed her the colored light strings and asked what color she liked best. lia didn't answer- so zoe filled in what her favorite was and they moved on. lia seemed fascinated- and she reached out and smoothed zoe's hair.  zoe led, quietly, peacefully, calmly. there was no anxiety- no nervous laughing, no forced jokes or awkward fill-in statements. zoe was absolutely relaxed- in her element- at her best.

there was very little reciprocal conversation, but there was reciprocal connection.  it was not parallel play- they were engaged- almost like children who don't speak the same language but can somehow communicate. and enjoy each other.

the sitter told me that they come every week. they usually come with a boy from lia's school to encourage socialization and communication.  he said, every week- they just ignore each other, they play separately and then go home.  he said he's never seen lia like this- that he wished he had a video camera so her parents could see her with zoe.

we turned around and they were running back to the trampoline -holding hands.

when we left- zoe asked if we could see her again soon.  so i asked her, what she like about playing with lia- why she wanted to see her and play with her again, and yet she doesn't feel that way about other kids- (other typical 11 year olds- i'm thinking).  she said she didn't know- but that she could understand her.  that they could read each others minds.  that maybe it's because she and lia have "similar problems".  i asked what she meant and she said "we both don't like loud noises and have trouble reading facial expressions."

i remembered my barbara inspired 30,000 foot goals for my kids:
      to feel they have inherent worth and value
      to feel loved and be able to give love
      to search for God's purpose for them
      to make good choices
      to know they have something to give

and i saw the whole day in a new light.  i saw hope.  i saw fruition. a saw a girl with a gift.  a girl with a purpose.

i left feeling so proud of her.  of her kindness and her ability to reach out. to love.  to make good choices. but also i left feeling really happy for her- that she felt like she had something valuable to give- and she was right.  and that she felt understood and connected with another girl her age.

but most of all, i felt happy that she had found a friend.


Christi O said...

This is so wonderful! Congratulations and especially for recognizing what a wonderful thing this was.

Have you ever read Donna Williams' books (adult with Autism). She talks of working with kids with Autism and how well she could understand what they needed -- much better than their teachers. Maybe your daughter has found a future calling! :) Best to you.
Christi O

Kris Reid said...

hi Christi!
it was wonderful! i should read that book- i think zoe might have found her calling- (i'm trying to harness her excitement into paying more attention at homeschooling!)

Karen r said...

Wow, whatever you write about touches my soul. This made me realize that I need to stop pushing my son to go to and to play with kids he may not want to. He will find his own connection with people that feels right to him.

Kris Reid said...

good- it's so hard though- we have this idea that they are 'supposed' to do this or that- and we forget to just back off and let them find their way, their friends-

Andrew said...

This is so great-- I am moved as usual by the interaction and your ability to communicate it as though i am there. - Colleen

Andi, On Call RN said...

Absolutely beautiful. What a great way to end a day!

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