(Wanna read part one? Click here)
In my latest attempt at winning the Meanest-Mom-of-the Year award, we left the evaluation and went straight to speech therapy. And then... the icing on the cake.... J-man had a dentist appointment (oh and he has at least 3 cavities, which means a lot of future joy for us). Yes, I think the Meanest Mom award is in the bag!!!
To make it up to him, I took him to Pump It Up for an Autism Speaks fundraiser benefit.
If you have never heard of Pump It Up, it is pretty darn cool. "Bouncey" houses on a grand scale, big enough for mommy and daddy. Our local Pump It up offers a monthly "Sensory Night" for special needs kids and their families and it is wonderful. There is nothing like being able to take your child somewhere and know... on some level... everyone there 'gets it'. And J-man loves... LOVES... it there. The Great Open Jump had a special early time set aside just for special needs kiddos, and so I figured we would go for about an hour early on in the evening and bounce with the boy.
When we arrived, I was quite surprised to find that there was only one other child there with his mom, a little four year old boy whom I'll call P. Other than them, we had run of the house. P was absolutely thrilled we were there. He has high functioning autism and was very verbal and happy that a 'friend' had arrived to play with him. I cringed a little. Given the events of the day, I wasn't sure if J-man would give him the time of day. Or even glance his way.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
After a little warm up time, the boys were chasing each other. Each boy was pulling the other in one direction or another. At one point, J-man gestured to P and said (in a demanding voice) "down!". Initially I thought he was trying to get the boy off a perch that J-man had claimed as his own, but then I realized he wanted P down so they could keep playing their chase game. Amazing!
Up and down the inflatable slide.
Cruising around in kiddy cars.
Wrestling around with big laughter.
It was interactive and joyful for a whole hour.
I rarely get to see J-man with his peers. While he goes to J&J, I don't get to observe him. And I figure that he probably doesn't engage much with them, especially with little assistance to foster relationships. The demands of the classroom and on his ability to engage are probably too great. But with this boy, in a physical activity where there were no expectations or high demands on his language skills, he glowed.