Proud Moments: I Couldn’t Be Prouder of Wyatt!
This article starts a new column entitled Proud Moments. Proud Moments can be any time that you have been extremely proud of your child with special needs. It can be when they are giving it their all or reaching a milestone. You may feel you can only share your excitement or enthusiasm with someone that will really understand. We certainly understand. We are encouraging you to please share a proud moment with us for this next issue!
“I couldn’t be prouder of Wyatt!” He jumped on Chris Runge’ssailboat just like he had sailed it a hundred times before! Chris said the best part of the sail was watching Jim’s face light up with pride when Wyatt reached out, unprompted, to tighten the sail.”
Wyatt is working to overcome autism, apraxia and a limb difference.
~Cynthia and Jim Falardeau
Photo is of Wyatt sailing with his dad/my husband Jim at Sebastian Inlet State Park. The boat belongs to Chris Runge who is a sailing friend of Jim’s. Chris and Jim had competed and won many major sailing events in Florida as well as throughout the South.
We’ve had many “special achievement moments” since my daughter has been in Dr. Mane’s H.I.T. Therapy. Here is one example:
Previously, my daughter was so fearful of noise, of the perception of pain…she couldn’t sequence through that if she heard a loud sound or if she got hurt. The noise and the pain would soon go away, etc. For example, she has wanted her ears pierced for years! She would go and look at earrings, and sometimes even sit in the chair as if to get them pierced. But, as soon as she would hear a “click” sound, she’d be off the chair before her ears were pierced and cry out of fear and frustration. I felt so bad because she so wanted them pierced, but, her fears got the better of her. Well, a few months ago, we went to the mall and there she was, looking at earrings again. She even talked to the person behind the counter (Miss Ali) and asked if she could see the machine they used. She LISTENED to the steps Miss Ali told her they do to pierce ears. Next thing I know, she’s sitting in a chair, Miss Ali is asking me to sign a required form, and my daughter sat still, got her ears pierced, smiled from ear to ear the whole time with NO fears. She got up from the chair, she looked in the mirror at her newly pierced ears, she smiled a huge smile and she said, “my ears are piercedÉlet’s go celebrate!” So we went to the food court at the mall and had lunch! This may seem like an ordinary accomplishment for most girls, but this was a huge, years in the work, event for my daughter!
What an incredible day. Blue skies surround us. Wave conditions are nearly perfect at 1-3 feet. Dedicated and skilled surfers offer guidance and affection to our children. Our children are those with autism. One of the 1 in 150 children diagnosed with this disorder. For close to 5 hours, my daughter chased the waves at Stuart Public Beach. It was July 18, 2009 and Surfers for Autism organized an event that I guarantee changed, not only the children with autism, but also their parents, spectators, and volunteers as well. I stood there with a smile from ear to ear and my heart glowing. A complete stranger had embraced my daughter in his arms and has worked some “voodoo ocean magic”. She has been almost pulled out of herself by living in the moment and her anxieties are pushed aside. She and approximately 150 other children from the Treasure Coast area are laughing, paddling, spilling and surfing.
No dirty looks.
Acceptance that these children are exactly that- children. As a mother, I would do anything to expand my daughter’s view of the world in a safe and fun way. This free event opened my eyes to not only the skills and abilities of children on the autistic spectrum, but also to the dedication and love that surround these children. It was amazing to see the beach erupt into applause and praise as a child rode the waves towards the shoreline. To see the confidence and pure elation on the faces of these children that might struggle with the most “day to day” activities was a snapshot forever etched in my mind. There were dedicated volunteers (Thank you Tim and Mike, her awesome surf instructors!) who surfed and swam endlessly from 8 am- 2 pm, never once indicating frustration, ignorance or fatigue as the children tried to refine their surfing skills. Thank you so much Treasure Coast Surfers for Autism. Thank you for raising funds to go towards the Treasure Coast Walk Now for Autism and Autism Speaks. Thank you for providing an opportunity for my daughter, and others like her, to spend a day in the world where acceptance surrounded her, instead of shunned her. Thank you for helping us surf for a cure.
There are many different proud moments in a parent’s life. For me, there are even more of these moments when you have a special needs child. One of our proud moments happened just recently.
The other day, my daughter did something that made us very proud. When we said we loved her, she bent her fingers to make the sign for “I love you” to me and my wife. This was a wonderful and very proud moment in our lives. She is now able to do this sign on a regular basis. This has been one of the different things she is now able to do after recently completing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
I have been working with my daughter to make her bed up for about a year and a half. We started with me safety pinning felt squares with the number “1” and “2” on the corners of her comforter. Then, with 2 additional felt squares also numbered “1” and “2”, I hole punched and tied a ribbon through the squares and put them around the posts of her headboard. I taught her to match the 1’s together and the 2’s together. It has been about eight months that she has successfully made her bed every morning before school or leaving the house. Just yesterday, without being told or asked, she went into my bedroom and made OUR king size bed. Adding the blanket and show pillows. Perfectly!!!! It was a very proud moment, indeed!