Thursday, November 30, 2006

Landing on His Feet

Alan has been taking a special-needs gymnastics class on Thursdays for several months now. Last month, we added a second class on Tuesday evening. Alan's body is getting stronger and he is more agile. Alan's motor planning has been slow to develop. Now, at fourteen years, eleven months, he is gaining rapidly.

A major thing that coach Jerry has been working on is Alan's weak upper body strength. Today, he addressed this by having Alan bear walk fast over a distance. He also had him push up on a bar. On Tuesday, he was swinging between two non-parallel bars and raising himself up on them.

Outside of gymnastics, we have also noted Alan's strides in motor planning. He has been going to the Teen Center once a week to play basketball and pool. We noticed when we took him to an indoor court in Washington over Thanksgiving with his athletic nephew, Kal, that Alan could actually sink more baskets. Kal was better at defense and knew the rules, such as taking turns shooting, so their balls didn't collide. Don commented that now Alan has a certain grace when he is shooting baskets. I am glad that Alan can participate in this common, inexpensive sport.

Back to gymnastics. Ever since Alan began taking gymnastics, the coach has been having him go on the running trampoline, running or hopping down the long run and then jumping into a forward somersault. At first, Alan did it with all of his body touching the mat. Then, he used his arms to somersault, but the rest of his body didn't touch. Recently, he started flipping over in the air without touching, until he came down on his back. I can't do that. I never could do that.

Today, with encouragement to jump higher and to stay tucked longer, Alan landed on his feet a couple of times. Jerry said that all he needs to do now is to perfect it. Go Alan!

Alan thinks the most fun in the gym is to jump on the large trampoline with a snowboard on his feet. He can jump up onto a large block and back down again and do a seat drop and forward drop with the snowboard on.

With every new apparatus or move, Alan has to complain to Jerry that he can't do that. Today, Jerry had a large bucket at the end of the climbing rope. I didn't get to see what the purpose was, because Alan could not get into the bucket the way Jerry wanted. I expect, though, within a few more times, especially with a boy who can do it ahead of him, Alan will rise to the challenge, as he has with hurdling the balance beams, bear walking and somersaulting.

Tomorrow is the day to measure Alan's height as I do every first of the month. I imagine that he will have grown the half inch from last month's five feet, five and a half inches to equal my five feet, six inches. He will be so happy. And I am so proud of him for having the courage to learn all these hard moves that haven't come easily to him. He is becoming an athlete.



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