Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Gym Makes My Sphincter Clench

Four years ago at this time, we were living in Northern Cali.  Audrey was going on 3, already diagnosed, and in Early Intervention.  Our beloved EI therapist Kitty suggested that we try one of those kiddie gym places:  My Gym, Little Gym, Gymboree, Uncle Gymmie's No-Tell Ball Pit Emporium, Concussions R Us, Parachutes 'N Pus.  You know the ones.

In the beginning, all three of us went together.  Two adults for one little toddler.  I still couldn't handle it.  Those were such dark days, seeing all of the other kids, some much younger than Audrey, doing so many things that she couldn't.  She could talk, but wouldn't say her name during the welcome circle, hated being motored through the gesture songs, melted down when another kid cried, and was incapable of doing the basic gymnastic moves.  She couldn't jump at all, and couldn't hold on, even for a nanosecond, to a trapeze bar.  She couldn't wait her turn without making a scene.  She was completely inflexible and always had to have the same swing or have a certain toy or piece of equipment all to herself.  I cried all the way home after every session.

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about signing Audrey up for some kind of camp during her winter break.  It so happened that Lauren was going to be an aid for another one of her charges (yes, she has the nerve to have others) at a camp that My Gym was running.  I wasn't feeling very creative, so decided to just cop the other mom's idea and sign Audrey up.  I tried to go enroll her during what I thought would be a down time, but, wouldn't you know it, a toddler class was just starting.  They started singing that welcome song and it was like I was hearing the choppers back in Nam.  I had the most visceral reaction I've ever experienced.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I felt physical pain upon hearing that song.  I could not get out of there fast enough.

Lauren accompanied Audrey to the camp three days this week.  I very rarely brag about Audrey on this blog, so if you will allow me...per Lauren's daily report, Audrey:
  • Introduced herself every morning without any prompting
  • Participated in games, including one where she had to go to the center of the circle, pretend to be her favorite animal, and confirm to the others if they guessed right (she was a doggy, take that kitties!).
  • Waited her turn, counting down the allotted time that the person in front of her was allowed.
  • Did soooo much more gross motor-wise, including jumping (she basically has never stopped once she figured out how), swinging from trapeze, and holding on to a zip-line.
  • Never cried or had any behaviors.
OK, so it's been four years and not four months, but still.  I'm happy for progress, no matter how slow it is in coming.  I feel like I've been telling a lot of fellow special needs parents of younger children that it will get better.  And it does.  It's just so hard to see when you are in the throes of it.  Hopefully next time it won't take me four years.


  1. First of all: You are SO fucking funny and I heart you.

    Second: Yes, it does get better. We're now going on year #6 since dx and good stories like this are VERY good to hear when you're in week #6 !

  2. See. That's what I've been saying. It gets better.

    I remember b-day parties at those places with Griffin. Brutal. Absolutely brutal. Friggin horrible. Life changing - not in a good way.

    Btw, jillsmo "hearts" every body. Don't let it go to your head.

  3. "Like hearing the choppers back in Nam."

    Totally got it, with those six words.

  4. That is so freaking fantastic!!!! I still have bad Gymboree flashbacks, myself.

  5. I was so proud of Audrey! She did great... amazing progress!!

  6. Yay Audrey! How awesome is that?

    I loved the My Gym by me. It's the one the founders of My Gym run. All the kids that work there work as behaviorists on the side! They had loads of special needs kids.

    I definitely had my share of crying on the way home moments, but overall, we really loved going.

  7. I take my daughter to that exact My Gym now. She loves it. Never took Moe there, but I'm thinking of taking Jelly to a community center class I took with him - the first one where I really knew something was wrong. I cried every time too, and after a couple classes just stopped going. I'm not sure if it is worth the memories.

    I know I'm one of the parents you've been telling it will get better. Thank you for saying it, and for proving it with this post.

  8. I HATE that there are smells and sounds in this world that can literally bring me back to somewhere against my will. Like those stupid hello songs, or the smell of NICU soap.....
    But I suppose SOMETIMES those sounds and smells bring me to awesome places I had forgotten about and I love when that happens.

    The kid's come a long way!!! Yay for Audrey!! (See?! smooth like buttah)

    It totally does get better.

  9. One of my favorite posts- I *LOVE* hearing happy updates with all of these kids :)

  10. Go Audrey!! means so much more when they reach a milestone, that's for sure :)

  11. I second the commendation for the "choppers back in Nam" line. Whoo.

    We're about to re-visit swimming lessons at a pool where our last experience three years ago was less than stellar. Hoping that we see the progress-contrast too.

    Go, Audrey!

  12. Lynn this is truly fantastic how far your daughter has come. Think about how delayed she was, physically even and where she is now. My son had the opposite experience - he started out very high functioning and lost much of it due to Landau Kleffner Variant. He's clawing his way up though.

    Check out my latest post. Somehow you got rolled up into my twisted new header unveiling.

  13. I'm a good-fer-nothing lurker, but I had to comment on this post. My stomach clenched when I read the opening paragraphs. You're right, those early days when you're constantly comparing your kid with everyone else's and you don't know what the hell's going to happen are sooooo dark.

    Right after my son was diagnosed we ran into friends with their daughter who was the same age, and she was chattering and pointing at things at a time when my son had never spoken a word or pointed at anything once. We went to our car and bawled.

    But things do get better. He's talking and doing incredibly well in preschool. And we aren't scared blind anymore. We've accepted him for who he is and we have a handle on how he's wired. Plus he's an awesome kid and now that we're not caught up in despair over the diagnosis, we can enjoy how awesome he is.

    Audrey is fantastic, btw. Her personality really comes shining through in photos. I'm glad you did brag on her a little in this post--it's great to be able to celebrate her successes with you.

  14. @JennieB: Is it still run by the gay guy? The only saving grace of the whole experience was during free play when he'd cut the kiddie music and put on classic disco or the Rent soundtrack. He was really nice to us.

    @JoyMama: Good luck with the swimming...that's one we've never tried.

    @Anonymom: Thanks for commenting! Glad to hear that you are in a better place as well...hurray for our awesome kids!

  15. You seriously have no idea how much hope this gives me for Katie. She's recently decided to quit being cute and instead grace us with tantrums and inflexibility and it's driving me crazy (mostly with worry). Audrey is so, so smart and since Katie is also super precocious I'm hoping we can get to the same place in a couple of years. She just turned three.

    I'm impressed that you continued going to The Gym. I have started to avoid that stuff altogether...and feel super guilty for doing so. I haven't updated out blog in forever because it would be one big downer. Also I'd have to listen to those I know IRL go on about how "all kids do those things".

  16. We did my gym with my daughter for awhile last year? almost a year and a half ago? We had issues with circle time. Circle time can seriously suck it as far as I'm concerned. If you tried to get my child anywhere NEAR an L-A-P she was having a screeching meltdown... our accomodation to that was as long as she was IN the circle... OK... until it wasn't. But it was supposed to be fun right? And it was... except for all that turn taking... or ride on toy riding... or climbing she couldn't do yet.... or trapeze things, which frankly I always thought would pull her shoulders right out of the sockets... She LOVED the ballpit, oh and running back and forth... and bouncing on the trampoline... and swingtime.... but what made us leave? Body awareness. Once she could do certain things, or there were more kids in the class, the class got more dangerous automatically because there's more to navigate.

    You give me hope though. Maybe we'll try it again. She did enjoy it.

  17. Progress comes in different forms and at different rates for each of our kids, but it certainly does come. Well done Audrey.

  18. Great to hear! It's good for those of us still in the "throes" of difficult behaviors to know that it DOES get better, from another BTDT parent :)

  19. "Concussions are US" - LMAO!!!!

    Audrey's come a long way and you have to give some credit to yourself for making resources available to her, stimulating her, taking her on day trips that make her think and most of all mustering up patience! And not taking things too seriously cause that will make you go insane!

    Yes, even typical kids are a challenge in different ways than Audrey is. And it does get easier.

    Happy New Year Lynn!

  20. We have Ben in a gym that has an autistic program. The coach is great, and Ben likes it. He'll ask to go to gym class. I don't know what can be more unnerving though. Going to an autistic only group, where I'm constatnly watching, and embarrasing to admit comparing, or out with the typical kids.
    Took Ben to a U-Bounce tonight where a couple unsupervised little $%*@$'s thought it was fun to bean Ben with balls on one of the jumps. I don't think they were "targeting" him, but since he can't speak for himself... I had to do it. I was LOUD and clear. Wish the lazy mother was around instead of probably on her phone so I could have "educated" her.

  21. Oh my goodness did that make me laugh. Made me have a few flashbacks but I can laugh at them now. And it's probably not just because I had a couple of New Years Eve drinks. =) Happy New Year though! 2010 can kiss it. Woot for 2011!

  22. That is *HUGE* progress and I'm so proud of your sweetheart! We celebrate everything in our household so we'll do a little dance (to a non-My Gym song) for Audrey. I took Nate to My Gym when he was a peanut. He should have been in the older class but, he didn't walk, so he was in the littler class. He liked going through the motions if I did them with him, and he liked some of the activities, as long as they were away from the other kids. His favorite? The swings. Holey. Could not get him out of the swing to let others have their turn. I finally quit because he a) hated the other kids and b) it was depressing to me to see 10 and 11 month old kids practicing their walk on the balance beam while Nate had just conquered crawling. Now that we know Nate's autistic, it all makes sense but still - it's no fun to be around a slew of germy kids who remind you that your kid might just be the one that isn't like the others. (That would be because my kid rocks more...just sayin'.) Happy New Year to you and yours!

  23. Aw Lynn that is lovely to read! I too have had the gymboree meltdown experience! We are almost past this stage it is great to see that people come through it. It is so hard in the beginning xx Well done Audrey x

  24. Before Jack was diagnosed, before I even thought about him having autism, he and I would go to a Music Together class. In retrospect, I see all kinds of autistic behaviors. At the time, I just saw that my kid was the one who was different and upset and not compliant. I fought back tears in those classes so many times. I wouldn't want to go back there either.

    Kudos to Andrey for doing so well. You must be so proud!

  25. @Kristine: Katie will get there!

    @Melissa: Your daughter sounds so much like Audrey. She actually missed the last day of camp, so we have a credit that we can use towards some classes...we'll see if I can make it over the threshold of that place again without the flashbacks.

    @Jacqui: I'm right there with you in bawling out other people's children. Let's make a pact to bail each other out of jail when they call security on us.

    @Nate's Mom: Oh, I am so familiar with the holding back business. Sounds like Audrey and Nate have the same gross motor schedule.

  26. When I started reading this post I had a horrible flashback. One of my son's worst ever, I mean EVER, Autism tantrum was at My Gym. So when I got to the Choppers at Nam line I was there. "You had me at Choppers." (if you've never seen Jerry McGuire this won't mean anything.)