|Receiving a hug after a long session.|
Yesterday afternoon was his last day of an 8-week course at Brain Highways in Encinitas.
No ceremony. No cap and gown.
Yet an incredible amount of growth, development and awareness took place.
In just two months.
I am talking about a 9-year old boy. With special needs (autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy). Who had been rather unengaged in life.
That is no longer the case.
He smiles, he makes eye contact, he anticipates, he even acknowledges that he understands what is said by those around him. He gives high 5’s. He is learning how to play.
The process of getting there has been frustrating, amazing, miserable and ecstatic. Often in a single afternoon.
And I am just a bystander.
A friend of his mother.
Who listened when she described the program and said that the first class had left her wiped out and slightly anxious. So I offered to attend with her and her son.
From the very beginning, the director taught us to look at him as any other 9-year old child.
Treat him like any other 9-year old child.
Engage with him as we would any other 9-year old child.
And that was difficult.
It was far easier to coddle, over-help and let him get away with all kinds of behavior.
Now everyone in his life is doing better.
And so is he.
We have all toughened up. And become cheerleaders in the effort.
Letting him know what specific behaviors are expected of champions.
So he can become one.
The successes happened right away. A happy alert boy was delighted to enter the building for his third session.
Hugs and handholding followed.
I was acknowledged. Even though I had known him since he was a baby, I was never sure he was aware of my existence.
After this, fine motor skills started to show up – clapping with open hands.
Games and fun became part of his life – tug-of-war, taking turns, playing with toys, choosing what book to have read to him.
Another parent at Brain Highways wondered how his mother could remain stoic each and every week as she watched all the dramatic changes unfold.
Why had she not burst into tears of amazement?
I think emotion was always saved for later. There was too much work to be done.
And that work will continue. And progress will be made.
It has been my privilege to be a small part of his team and witness the transformation.