Thursday, April 8, 2010

Audrelina Ballerina

Audrey is taking ballet classes at our local park district. It's the first time that we've attempted a class for "typical" kids rather than one through the special needs arm of the park district. They very nicely let us provide our own aid, and Audrey goes to the lessons with Lauren, one of our home-based therapists.

Audrey has a lot of anxiety over doing new things, especially when it also involves separating from Mom. So we write "social stories" for her, which tell her about where she is going and what to expect. Every social story basically boils down to, "You are scared shitless to do this, but you are going to have the time of your life doing it." Whenever Audrey sees us coming at her with a new story, she rips it out of our hands like breaking news coming hot off the presses. As she reads it, I watch her furrowed brow gradually turn upside down and by the time she reaches the end of it she is practically euphoric as if to say, "Wow! I'm going to have a great time! It says so right here! Why would this piece of paper lie to me?" And off she goes. My heart breaks a little as she flounces off in her tutu, so completely trusting of us and the words that we wrote.

But the thing is, she does have a great time. She just needs the extra nudge to push her through those new doors. After ballet class, she often runs through a script that is a combination of the social story and instructions from class:

I sat in chairs.
We go to circle.
Do the positions.
I try not to cry.
Go see Mr. Smiles.
I follow the rules.
Get a surprise.
I come home and see Mom.

From what I understand, Mr. Smiles is some kind of smiley face stuck on a beanie baby body that somehow conducts mind control and gets the girls to do whatever the teacher says. And here I am going to the trouble of writing social stories when all I had to do was draw a smiley face on a bag of rice.

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