Today was our weekly horse riding lesson at Riding for Disabled. Warrior Kid loves it, it's the highlight of his week. This is the start of our 3rd year and he has progressed so much.
My son has Aspergers (plus a stack of co-morbid disorders) and also some physical problems. He does well in the small class of 3 and looks forward to seeing the other kids and the volunteers each week.
Today - it rained. A LOT! It started halfway along our drive so I decided to keep going in case it stopped when we got to riding. Everyone was in the shed having morning tea and hoping the rain would stop. It was heavy and the middle of a storm. I was thinking we'd stay 10 minutes and to be honest it did not look like the storm was going to end any time soon and the horses would be wet and not up for a ride anyway.
But that's when it happened. The child who I have at home all the time, the chatty, bubbly, funny, over excited child appeared. While he likes the other kids, today there was none (they were clever and avoided the rain LOL) and so he let his guard down. There was no other child to compete with for attention, that he had to put on his 'brave face' or mask for, it was just the volunteers. While he always talks to them, it's more a case of him answering questions and needing to be prompted to say hello etc. I think they were all in shock today when he talked their legs off! Luckily for them his topic of choice was his pets as they could follow along in the conversation (if you can call it that as he barely came up for air!). I imagined the looks on their faces had it been Pokemon. Phew.
He talked, and talked, and talked - for an hour. Then the rain stopped. Just as it was time for us to leave. As the next session of children had not arrived (because of the weather), Warrior Kid was asked if he wanted a ride. No Saddle, no stirrups, just a soft riding pad (in case the weather turned nasty again).
Well what a difference being the only child in a lesson made! He was relaxed and calm, usually he is quite tense, fairly quiet and a bit standoffish. He was able to communicate with the volunteers so much better, not getting frustrated. He was able to control the horse 'with his mind' he said. The volunteers were a little stunned at the difference too. "He is so much more mature this year", "He looked like he was meditating on the horse", "one on one worked so well for him".
It was such a great feeling to watch these lovely volunteers really SEE the child I get to deal with at home for the first time in 2+ years. I often wonder if people really understand when I explain what he was like when he was at school and the huge change since homeschooling and the great child I get to see at home everyday. I don't think they really GOT IT till today. When I mentioned that today's child is the one I have at home and why I know homeschooling is best for him I got nods of agreement and genuine smiles. When I said that one on one is truly what works best for him, they knew I was right.
And you know what, I don't really look for validation, or need it, but gee it's nice to get.
So today's rainy day turned out to be a bonus private lesson. One that Warrior Kid loved especially since it was different to normal (no saddle or stirrups) and he had no anxiety over the change either.
Ironically, while the lesson ended and we were all discussing how great he'd done, the sun came out.