December 21, 2009

Hoops, horses and hockey stops

Hoops, horses and hockey stops. What else could a 16 year old girl with down syndrome want on a cold winter weekend? Not much based on this past weekend. Not all three events were entirely successful, but we did go to bed tired and happy.

As far as hoops – there was a JV basketball game on Friday evening. Alex suited up but she did not play. I have come to realize that floating between the C and JV teams means Alex will play on the C team and warm the bench on the JV team. To be fair, it was a close game, and there were four other girls that also kept the bench warm with Alex. But my question - What does a couple minutes play time really mean? My answer; pride for Alex, and good sportsmanship for the girls.

I am still not convinced this is what we had agreed to, but as long as Alex is happy I am okay – for now. However, this does mean, we sat and watched Alex sit for 2 hours. Must admit, I’d rather have been home sitting, those bleachers are very uncomfortable.

Alex has been riding on Saturdays, which is one of her favorite activities. She rides at WindWalkers, a therapeutic riding program, located on a beautiful ranch in our mountains. Therapeutic riding has proven to be very beneficial for Alex. She has developed core strength and confidence. She is also able to work on social and language goals.These large animals respect and listen to Alex, she is taught she is the boss; but still needs to respect the power of the horse. To me, it really is a holistic approach to therapy for children with special needs.

Alex has been asking her instructor to learn to jump and trot all fall. Perhaps it was an early Christmas present or perhaps Alex really did work hard this session – but she trotted! This was a spectacular event; watching my daughter beaming with pride as she led Gunnar around the arena. Possibly the fastest I have seen Alex move in a long time. Hard to describe, but Alex and Gunnar looked like one single fluid being without a care in the world.

Sunday, Alex skied with Challenge Aspen. This was our second day on the mountain and it was beautiful, unlike last week’s wind and snow storms. Alex’s buddy (or partner as she called him) was Rick, and he was fun, patient and male. No surprise there, Challenge Aspen is usually right on when it comes to Alex. Also - y chromosomes are good, Alex seems to bond better with males, which I assume is the result of being 16.

Rick and Alex covered the entire mountain playing chase, hide and seek, and taking pictures. Her hockey stops were impeccable and her turns smooth. Alex allowed me to ski one run with her - but then I was dismissed. I suspect she wanted Rick to herself!

So begins the winter season. We are off to a great start – but as always I will hope for the best and adjust as needed. One never knows what the future will bring!

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