Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Little Things #SensoryHop

Ben and his Papa riding the golf cart during a camping trip this summer.  
"Enjoy the little things in life...for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."
-Robert Brauit

November is the month where we take the time to reflect on what makes us thankful.  I’m trying to embrace this spirit of thankfulness all year, not just in November, but this is easier said than done.  It is easy to become caught up in negativity and focus on the many things that make life just plain hard.  Even so, there are those shining moments in our day, some of them so small that they might pass us by if we’re not taking the time to notice.  These moments serve as reminders of all that we have to be thankful for.

Last Monday I took Ben to his occupational therapy class, as I have on pretty much every Monday afternoon for the past year and half.  Afternoon OT sessions twice a week became my new normal after Ben’s autism diagnosis.  Ben’s therapy is on the other side of town, and it takes us a good half hour to get there from his school, so depending on traffic, we either arrive slightly early, right on time, or slightly late.  Ben loves going to “the gym” as he calls it, and fine motor days are one of his favorites.  He can hardly wait to head back into the gym, filled with all of his favorite sensory goodies, from the trampoline to the crash mats, and multiple swings and a ball pit. 

When we arrive early it usually takes all of my powers of persuasion to convince him to wait quietly in the lobby until the other group is finished.  If I turn my back for a split second, Ben bolts into the gym, announcing loudly, “Here I am!!” and begins racing from one piece of equipment to the next.  Thankfully, the staff is quite familiar with Ben and his needs, and they graciously accommodate him.

Today we arrived the dreaded five minutes early.  I braced myself for a torturous five minutes of placating him until the previous group finished their session.  Surprisingly, my fears were unwarranted.  After letting Ben know that we were early, he calmly removed his shoes, put them in the cubby, and sat down on the waiting room floor and joined two other little boys in a Lego building project.  His little body showed none of its usual signs of restless energy and agitation at being forced to wait for a hugely preferred activity.  

He sat and waited.

No stream of endless questions, such as “Why we’re early?”  No bolting into the gym.  Nothing but calm play.  At one point he looked up as he heard the “goodbye song” playing in the gym, a sign that the current class was winding down.  “My turn soon,” he said, a simple statement of fact, and then returned to his Legos.

A few minutes later, when his teacher came to tell the boys it was their turn, he jumped up and quickly joined the group.  I watched him from the parent viewing area as he completed the obstacle course- pulling his body through the squeeze machine that he used to avoid, winding through cones that used to give him such difficulty.  In fact, a year ago, he would have spent the first five minutes of class running circles around the perimeter of the gym before he would have been ready to join the group at all.

As I watched his OT session, waves of gratitude filled my heart as I realized how thankful I am. 

Thankful for the team of people who have worked so hard with Ben to get him to the place he is today. 

Thankful for OT staff at this gym who have patiently worked with him since the early days following his diagnosis, when I had no clue what sensory diet or self-regulation meant. 

Thankful for his speech and language teachers who are helping him to develop the tools to communicate effectively and engage in appropriate social interaction.  Because of their efforts I can now have a back and forth conversation with my son, and he is beginning to play with others on the playground instead of just wandering aimlessly at recess.  

Thankful for Ben's kindergarten teacher who challenges his mind while caring for his tender heart. Thankful that she structures her class to allow plenty of opportunities for movement so that, even at the end of the day, he is still calm and regulated enough to take part in therapy.

Better yet, I’m thankful for all of the teachers who work with Ben at school, who smile and greet him every day, and who take the time to know him and care about him.

I am thankful for his friends who save him a spot at the table each morning before school and say,
“Hey, Ben, we’ve got the Legos ready.  Want to play?”

I am thankful for my family who see a little boy and not a disability and who love him unconditionally.  I don’t know what I would do without their love and support.

I am thankful for so many individuals who have played a part in helping Ben to grow into the person who he is today. 

Most of all, though, I am thankful for Ben.  Thankful for the millions of little ways that he enriches my life.  I'm thankful for his kindness and unwavering love.  And I’m thankful for the view he allows me of his world.  Ben has taught me lessons that I have applied time and again.  Lessons of tolerance, patience, and acceptance.   

We have a long way to go, and some days are better than others, but today I am thankful.  Thankful for the little things that are not so little after all.


  1. Sweet, sweet, SWEET.
    Lovely the way you balance helping Ben be his best self and loving and accepting him unconditionally!

    1. Thanks, FSM! It's funny that I almost pulled this post at the last minute because we were having a particularly challenging day and I just wasn't feeling this post. Then, I decided I needed the reminder and wanted to be true to the message within. Life can be hard- really tough- so those moments are truly so important to remember and treasure.

  2. What a BEAUTIFUL post. Ben is lucky to have such a wonderful mom and I'm sure he is as thankful for you as you are for him. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story and Ben's triumph over waiting for his turn in the gym.

    1. Thanks! I feel pretty lucky to have him as a son. He's such a caring little guy and tries so hard to please.

  3. That's Great you kept this post up!! Made my day!!!


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