It’s that time of year again when the rubber meets the court in a very special event for you my dear. That’s right baby girl – the Fall Special Olympics for Wake County has arrived.
Bring on the Basketball!
Now that you are a 3-year veteran in this event, it’s a great time for mom and dad to get a good look at how much you’ve grown,not only in your mad basketball skills, but also behaviorally and developmentally as well.
It all starts with a team uniform. Once again Miss Tammy and I were back at it, with a new T-shirt design to represent our Oakview Owls. This year we attempted to make them all adorably similar, but with a flare of individualism. We made yours a wide-eyed, dark pink owl & sporting a cute bow (you know I can’t resist it when you’re the only girl in the class).
Uniform – check!
Before we get to crush some gnarly basketball skillz (yes dear, I know that isn’t the correct way to spell “skills” but I’m trying to speak in your street baller lingo…), you must first get over several sensory hurdles.
Ready, set, go…first hurdle of the day - the bus!
A rite of passage for most kiddos field tripping somewhere is the bus ride from point A (school) to point B (in this case the Special Olympics). This simple task can be a lot for kids with sensory processing disorders to handle. For most neurotypical kids this is easy peasy, but this simple bus ride could easily be the first hit to your sensory system and set the tone for the rest of the day.
The sound of the engine, the bumpy, unpredictable movements of the bus, and squeaking of the brakes, these many sights and sounds are all unusual inputs for your senses. Some bumps can send your hiney jumping high off your seat, and there is a very distinct diesel fuel smell combined with exhaust. The temperature is either like Antarctica or the Sahara Desert – but never just right. With all this in mind, your teachers were fully prepared for whatever may happen when they left the familiarity of their classroom, only to be greeted by a wonderful surprise…
The other Oakview students and teachers had lined the hallways, cheering and clapping for you as you departed for the bus!
How amazing is that? Knowing that this type of support is happening makes my heart swell with love and gratitude for this school community. We are blessed.
Having been graciously encouraged by your Oakview family, it was time for that bus ride!
Perhaps having gained some extra confidence from the school encouragement I’m happy to report - all went well and everyone breezed right over this hurdle with a sing along of the “Itsy bitsy spider” and “wheels on the bus.” In fact, I was told there were no tears at all and only happy sequels from kids bouncing the whole way there in their seats! Score! Big improvement over last time… great job class!
Bus – Check!
Now that you’ve arrived, so has your next hurdle. To greet you at the entrance was a giant life-sized white bear mascot. Really? O… K… so, I don’t get the correlation with the bear, but I’m sure it made sense somehow. And I’m sure no one considered the risk of sending you and your peers into fight or flight mode either! You see Addie, you’ve never been much a fan of animals (let alone extremely disproportioned ones) until only just recently.
But, you were on a roll and cruised right by the giant polar bear hater (see, street baller lingo again…) and happily jumped off the bus saying “white bear” “white bear” running straight to him to get a feel of the soft, fluffy, furry costume. Maybe someone knew more about sensory (tactile) feedback that I realized… I stand corrected.
Phew! Large unexpected Mascot – check!
So far, so good! Time to ball!
But before we do, we have the next challenge… next we had walk through the acoustically challenging gym - packed full of people. To which you just happily followed your teachers to find your seat. Lucky for us, it was packed and full of chatter creating a white noise effect, which is more pleasing to your auditory system than isolated sounds echoing in the gym would be.
Entered the Gym – check!
Next up - bring on the microphones for the Special Olympics pledge and National Anthem. Microphones are designed to be heard at a louder decibel than non-amplified sounds, oh, and you dislike them. A lot.. They usually result in some high pitched screaming or at minimum burying of fingers into ears. Sometimes we even get a full blown meltdown.. Never know! It is a result of your hypersensitive auditory response to the sound.
This time, while you were displeased by the sound, you showed tremendous coping skills in gently covering your ears until it was finished– no screaming, no crying, just waited it out. Insert mommy and daddy looking at each other in awe of how well you were doing. Great job Addie!
Auditory hurdles in an acoustically challenging environment – check!
Now, let the games begin! Luckily for us there was no waiting and we were up first for events! Truly a HUGE blessing!
First up - dribbling skills. Being Addie “LeBron James” Menzo - you had this one in the bag, with flawless execution. You dribbled 27 times in 1 minute. BOOM! Having started strong, you set the tone for the rest of the events to come.
We continued through the remainder of the events, all while standing witness to this new-found focus on the skills being tested and patience in waiting. You indeed were showing great progress and we were so very proud. Predictably unpredictable but in a really good way :)
There were a few times we had to use our cat like speed and reflexes to catch you from running to the basketball bins, but I 1000% understood! You saw a bunch of basketballs, alone, just sitting, begging to be played with! Your sprinting to save them from boredom was justified in your mind. You know what Addie? I feel the same way when I see a plate of cupcakes begging for me to eat them…It’s all good. We’re just helpful people ;).
All was going so well, but a true test was still in the cue.
Last, but not least were the awards. In years past this has not exactly been a pleasant experience for you, leaving dad and I perplexed why you found those podium boxes so scary to stand on. It surely wasn’t a height issue, for you love nothing more than a high bird’s eye view of your world. For whatever reason,those boxes were the enemy! So we just simply added it to the list of things we didn’t understand.
Our time had come.
Daddy and I shared a glance at one another in anticipation for a fight or flight moment. We walked our way closer… you held daddy’s hand and climbed right up box – to the very top. Then you proceeded to climb to each of the three place rankings as if it was playground equipment. Hey, whatever works!
Wait? What?! No drama, no tears?! It’s true. Nothing but smiles.
Award ceremony – check!
The only tears today were mine. That’s a fact, I got misty eyed at your amazing progress! We could not have been prouder of you and whatever the rankings ended up being, you were without a doubt an all-star in our book!
You see Addie, all the same sensory assaults were still present as they were in years prior, but you showed great strength in coping and controlling your responses through it all. Not to mention your actual basketball skillz. You dribbled, dunked, and passed the ball much better than ever before! Perhaps we owe it to your veteran status, or maybe the stars had just aligned. Who knows, but we’re not exactly ready to retire your adorable Owlet shirt just yet.
See ya next fall y’all!
Great job Addie!