Whilst J may be six years old, there are certain things which many other six-year olds seem to be able to do which he, well … he just doesn’t want to even attempt. First it was swimming, it felt as if every other child was swimming lengths of the pool while J screamed at us as we continuously asked him to kick his legs and desperately tried to keep him afloat.
Despite our best efforts to encourage J to put some effort into swimming, including queuing for three hours to get him signed into the local swimming lessons and literally dragging him to the sessions each week, we were still at a loss. Each week we would have J practicing kicking his legs whilst balanced over my piano stool, even E his two-year old sister put more gusto into it, as she loves to join in.
Then, one night as if by magic things changed. One of J’s best friends (who was with J in school up until year two when he sadly moved schools) was at the swimming lessons. J obviously felt that he needed to impress his friend and so put all his energy into kicking his legs and off he went swimming lengths! His teacher was so impressed that he allowed J to swim in the deep end and now, it seems like swimming is something which is completely normal and was never even an issue.
Our new challenge is cycling. J has a beautiful blue bike which has recently had its stabilisers removed, much to his disgust. We have tried and tried to get him to ride his bike, poor Paul was bent over, running around helping to steady J as he practiced riding around the cul-de-sac. Each time J would cry and get himself into a tantrum like state and so in the end we gave up for a while… We simply did not want to push him too hard and completely put him off the idea of riding a bike.
A few months later we took J to Halfords to choose a new bike, in the hope that he would then want to ride said new bike. However, J fell in love with the retro red Schwinn Trike with a beautiful wooden bar for friends to stand on behind the rider, I have to admit it was flipping gorgeous and I would have bought it him in a heart beat as it meant that he practiced pedalling and whilst it may not be a bike as such, it was a start.
However, it wasn’t to be as unfortunately it was designed for 3-5 year olds. I scoured the internet for similar products but could only find the Ozzboz Elektra Road Hog (a blue trike bike which is designed for 6 year olds and over to work on tricks like skidding, and generally messing around). I decided to make the purchase and was hoping J would love it just as much as the Schwinn Trike. Once again Lady Luck had ‘done one’ and left me slap bang at square one. J found the Ozzbozz Road Hog far too hard to move, as the wheels are actually plastic (apart from the front wheel which is made from rubber), the back wheels therefore don’t roll, instead they skid along and create a drag making it hard to steer and pedal.
This afternoon the sun decided to make yet another appearance and so off out we went. E was riding her new bike and J low and behold was riding his bike with Paul once again running alongside to assist him. I couldn’t believe the difference, J actually put some effort into pedalling and after twenty minutes had made a huge amount of progress despite still being unable to completely let go and ride without Paul holding on. I would say he is eighty percent there and I am so proud!!! We need to keep up the practice and hopefully by the time summer arrives this year is J’s year for cycling.
I realise that J does find things a lot harder than other kids at times, hell he can certainly moan a lot more than most kids. I know that there is more to it than just him being a stubborn so and so, Paul and I are both aware and accepting of the fact that J has Asperger’s syndrome. I just wish that it wasn’t so damned difficult for J to be able to try new things and to believe in himself. Whilst I am completely pro special needs and all that, right now I am raising my middle finger to the autistic spectrum. God damn it, I would love to be able to break down the barriers for J and to help him to achieve his goals without all the stress and upset.
The bikes, trikes, scooters and all other methods of transport are now parked and packed up in the garage. J is happily playing a game of chess with his Daddy (and his sister who is sat fiddling with the pieces that are no longer on the board) and for me, it is once again time to go and put my slap on and get ready for a night behind the bar. Anyone invented a fast forward button yet?