Skateboards and Letterboards

On Saturday, we were fortunate enough to get Ryan a time slot at the A.skate event in Dallas, Texas at 4DWN.  From A.skate’s website, it states that:

“We provide one on one skate lessons for persons with autism in an environment that is appropriate to their sensory needs in order to learn. We provide this service at no cost to the families who participate.  We also provide the skateboard gear and safety equipment (helmets, skateboards, and pads) for the participants to use during their skate session. We strive to make the experience as incredibly successful for the participant as possible!……. Askate offers a “safe environment” for persons with autism on all ends of the spectrum to not only learn a therapeutic skill but to learn it in a place where persons are accepting.”

Our family has attended many different autism events over the past 7 years  Ryan has gone surfing, rode on horses, “walked” for autism, bounced in bounce houses, gone to carnivals, etc.  The A.skate event was by far the best one that we have attended.  The individuals who ran the event were extremely kind and jumped right in to make Ryan feel comfortable.  Ryan was paired up with two volunteers, coincidentally both were named Chris.  These guys were awesome.  They spoke to him like he was any other nine year old, and they worked so hard to give Ryan an absolutely amazing experience.

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As you can see from this picture, Ryan is not wearing a helmet.  Ryan had a lot of difficulty at first due to his sensory issues.  He persevered though and managed to be able to tolerate it as long as it wasn’t fastened at his chin.

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They took him around the entire park many, many times.  Since Ryan has a lot of issues with being able to control his body and getting it to do what he needs it to do, Chris and Chris had to work very hard.

I mean very hard.

But, of course there was time for some fun too.

At the event, Ryan spelled out with his letter board DEARLY HAVING SO MUCH FUN and CALLING IT BEST EVENT EVER.

At the end of the event, he spelled out for Chris and Chris, THANKS I HAD THE BEST TIME.  We got to meet Diane Odom and Kurt Odom, the parents who organized the event and brought A.skate to the DFW area.  Ryan spelled out to Diane:  THANK YOU SO MUCH.  I HAD A VERY GREAT TIME.

After an hour on the skateboard (more time than I ever thought would be possible for Ryan), he was done.  There was lunch provided at the event, but due to the noise and the amount of time Ryan had already spent at the event, we decided it might be best to hit up Ryan’s favorite restaurant Chipotle.  While in line, I asked Ryan what he wanted to order.  His response:  KNOW THAT I HAD A REALLY GREAT TIME TODAY.  Obviously, his experience at the event was still on his mind.

Later, once we were home, Randy asked Ryan about it.

I GIVE IT FOUR STARS.  REALLY GLAD I GOT TO PRACTICE SKATEBOARDING TODAY.

Ryan and I sat down to collect his thoughts about the day.  Here is what he spelled:

LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD WAS SO MUCH FUN.  THE REALLY CARING CHRIS(e)S MADE ME FEEL SO COMFORTABLE.  EVEN THOUGH I AM LEARY OF WEARING HELMETS, I DID IT.  REALLY I’M SO HAPPY THAT I GOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE AWESOME EVENT.  CALLING IT BEST EVENT EVER FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM.

“Ryan, what did it feel like on the skateboard because I have never done it?”

MADE ME FEEL LIKE I WAS TOO CLEAR HEADED.

“What do you mean by that?”

MEANS THAT I FELT NORMAL ON THE SKATEBOARD.

“I noticed that there was not much stimming in the skate park.  It wasn’t very noisy.  I didn’t hear a lot of kids yelling or squealing and I didn’t see much stimming from any of the kids.  I wonder if other kids felt the same way as you?”

MAYBE THEY DID.

“How about the helmet?  I was nervous in the beginning because you were having a really hard time with it.”

CAME TO THE REALIZATION THAT I NEEDED TO DEAL WITH IT IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE.

“Do you have any other thoughts about your experience?”

GEARING UP FOR THE NEXT ONE.

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Ryan and Chris and Chris.  That smile says it all.


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