Tuesday, May 06, 2008

embarking on a new adventure-Special Olympics

this is the first year Ciarra will participate in Special Olympics. Most events happen during the school day, and we have made a very conscious decision to keep her in class. Because we live in the sticks and dont have our own SO team, the kids are away from school for half a day or more at least once a week for trainings etc. We fought so hard to get Ciarra INTO the classroom, we feel pretty strongly about not having her taken out unless necessary.
That changed recently. The Director of Special education at our school decided to put together a team. I had asked about Ciarra being able to participate in the away things, but when I wasnt willing to have her miss so much class, she had to opt out. We were thrilled when the Director decided to pursue our own team. As it has turned out, they practice 2 days a week after school. The first big event is tomorrow, a Track & Field event. We agreed to allow Ciarra to go to a few events a year, just not weekly. So she will be going on this trip. We have been blessed with a school and teachers who truly live the Inclusion faith, and all three 3rd grade classrooms will be bussing kids to the event. They spent the afternoon making signs and talking about the day. The kids seem very excited, and Ciarra is too. There are 3 3rd graders competing, so it is very cool that they will have their classmates to cheer them on.

I love the joy on the face of the little girl in back...to be so free, huh?

I will be honest, I have resisted S.O. for Ciarra. she seems to be completely done in by adults with signifigant disabilities, especially wheelchairs, for some reason. She competes in our rec league teams for most sports, and because she is fully included in a very small community that doesnt give us the opportunity to know many people with DS, she simply doesnt have the exposure to special needs that she might in a bigger town. But she is big enough now to be reasoned with, if she gets scared she can use her words. I think she feels a kinship with others with DS, and she is very much a caretaker, too. She loves to help the other kids, and I hope she will not be overwhelmed tomorrow. Although Ciarra knows she has DS, she hasnt gotten to the understanding that there are many varieties of "different" and that it is really ok. I think that as she grows, S.O. will begin to take the place of regular sports for her, she simply does not get the deeper nuances of the games, she plays very much for fun, and at some point very soon, the fun becomes awfully competitive. Plus, out local Rec league has really bent the rules to let her play down a league, and she is getting old enough that they cant bend the rules forever. This years baseball team is 1st-3rd grades, but most 3rd graders are playing Little League now. And so, we hope to find a place that feels comfy in S.O. and hope she can meet some new friends, too. Her friend Margaret is going to be there, she is 10, with DS, and lives about 30 minutes from here. It will be nice if they can catch up and say hi.
I was pretty surprised today at practice. Ciarra can actually RUN! She has never been very fast, but I guess the competitive edge runs deep, she wanted to win! And she did. She will be competing with other kids 11 and under, I hope she manages to do well enough so she feels very good about herself. I imagine S.O. makes a point of every athlete feeling that way, though, so that is really neat. She will compete in the standing long jump, softball throw, and some running race. It is supposed to be HOT, so hopefully the Anhidrosis wont get to her too bad. her cooling vest will be going with her. I hope that we both find the experience to be as wonderful as I imagine it. I think it will be really good for her to have it as she gets bigger.

Oh, and here is what Anhidrosis looks like after 30 minutes in 70 degree weather:

not sure how clearly you can see it. It isnt just a red face, it is very distinct round red spots that stand out real strong on her face. When we start to see these, it is time to get her cooled down, quickly.

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