Yes He Can
September 22, 2009
The Out-of-Sync Child describes a child with dyspraxia as the "I Can't Do That" child. They sit on a bike but have to stare at their feet to get them to pedal...stare at their hands to make sure they are steering...and when they raise their head to see where they are going...the pedaling and steering stop, and the bike doesn't go anywhere. They climb stairs slower, they jump later, and the worst part is, they know it. Their friends can draw things that actually look like things with crayons, their peers skip happily around the playground, the toddler next door races around on his tricycle, and they know it. They remember the frustration, the falls, the failure.
So they look at the bike and say, "I can't do that."
And the parent of a child with dyspraxia shrugs, and says okay. He can't do that. Or he won't do that. Is that the same thing? Are we expecting too much or too little?
We ask the teachers and the therapists and get different answers. He can't process who/what/when/where/how questions. He can't pedal a tricycle. Eh, that's pretty common. I wouldn't worry about it. Here, practice some writing some letters with him this weekend.
Conversely: Letters?! Handwriting?! He's not ready for that. We need to focus on the gross motor skills first, the pragmatic speech, his receptive language processing.
Last week he met a little boy his age at the park. The little boy had a scooter. He chased Noah around and around on the scooter. He didn't speak English, so they didn't talk. They just chased and chased and chased and laughed and on the way home Noah announced that he wanted a scooter.
I said something non-committal about his birthday -- yeah, I would just LOVE to go out an spend money on another damn toy that he won't actually get on or go near in real life, like the big wheel and the tricycle -- but Jason, ever the optimist and big giant SUCKER when it comes to that boy, went out and bought him a scooter.
And he loved it. He was cautious at first, and kept his foot on the ground more often than not. He would only go in a straight line, and then jump off in a panic right before it collided with the sofa. He was adamant that he only wanted to ride it inside, not outside.
But a neighbor's little boy rode past our house one morning. He had the same little scooter. Noah saw him out the window and shrieked in delight and he needed his scooter he needed his SCOOTER. We all dashed outside and holy crap, look at him riding his scooter. He can do it.
"He needs a helmet," Jason fretted, and I groaned again. Art-project visors are one thing, but a helmet? He'll never wear one.
He accidentally crashed into the back of our neighbor's legs and fell down. He was fine. And he got back on the scooter.
We refinanced our mortgage this weekend. A better interest rate, lower payment, all around a good thing. We'd originally talked about the possibility of getting some cash back to renovate the kitchen, but now it's going towards the first installment of Noah's tuition. We couldn't find anyone to watch the boys during the closing, so I'd brought some toys and puzzles and hoped it would go quickly before they started getting too antsy.
Sure enough, Noah finished the little puzzle I'd brought in no time, and was not interested in anything else. The closing agent offered him a legal pad and a pen and he made some halfhearted scribbles. In desperation, I drew a capital L...the letter his teacher had told us to practice. Noah immediately shifted his grip of the pen and copied my lines.
"Dowwwwn, and across," he said. "And that's how you make an L!"
He then covered the paper with L's of various sizes, dowwwwwn and across.
When the closing was over, the guy collected his pad and pen. I asked if I could keep Noah's doodling page. I pressed it between the stacks of loan documents because I didn't want it to get crumpled.
Later, a stranger fitted him for a brand-new helmet and he did not protest. He just wanted to get back on his scooter. Until, that is, he spotted someone else's brand-new bike by the cash register. A big-kid two-wheeler, with training wheels attached. He climbed on it and slowly, surely, steadily...began to pedal towards the door. Jason and I just stood there stupidly, too shocked to actually do anything. A salesman intervened before we managed to snap to attention.
"I can ride a bike!" Noah shouted. I have to admit, he sounded a little surprised.
He spent the rest of the weekend on that scooter. Down hills, around corners, laughing as other little boys chased after him. He puts his leg out acrobatically and glides, trying out figure eights and perfect circles and wanting to go a little further from home each time, finally having fun like any other kid, because he is, and he can.