“Mom, these are my friends, not yours. You do NOT need to come in.”
Amanda tells me this on the rare occasion I bring her to “O Yoga” for her class with Miss Kelly French and the wonderful group of Tennis Ladies from Drumlins who have embraced my daughter as one of their own.
She began taking yoga with her mentor Mary Oliver, as an activity working toward her goal of physical fitness and healthy living. The relationship that has blossomed between Amanda and this group of women proves that inclusion in their communities benefits not only adults with special needs but our world as a whole.
Amanda was soooooooo ready to leave High School after her senior year. She had the opportunity to stay for a “super senior year” as they call it in our district, but she wanted no part of it. You get to 12th grade. You walk the stage at OCC for graduation. You DO NOT go back to High School after that. At least that is what her brain told her and she pushed forward with great expectation of what her next step would be.
As a parent/organizer of all things that happen in her life, I was not so ready. I heard her desire loud and clear, and could understand her point of view, but High School was safe. High School was planned. High School was a definite place she would be 8 hours of the day without me having to worry that (except for a snow day) it was going to be cancelled or for some other reason, not happen.
Amanda was adamant and unwavering. Thankfully she gave me enough warning that I was able to start planning and filling her day with what I hoped would be meaningful activities and work. Success happens through trial and error. Certain volunteer jobs sound good in theory, but in actuality are not a great fit. We keep looking for places for her to “do”, not just “be”. There is a difference.
Social activities are also chosen carefully. We minimize plans that seem to center around meeting at locations, sitting for hours, and eating.
Yoga was a “try it out” activity. Amanda is super flexible. She likes quiet. She appreciates calm. When her mentor suggested it I thought, “why not?”
And it works. The beautiful surprise is this is not just a class she shows up for every week. She has become part of a strong and caring community. She is accepted as one of the gang. She encourages others in the studio; she welcomes ladies as they arrive. She views them as her yoga family. And they feel the same about her.
And it is ok that she keeps them and this activity to herself. With a happy heart I send her through the door with her yoga mat and her smile, and drive away.
Photos of the Surprise Birthday Party the ladies planned for Amanda. The one is with her and Miss Kelly French.
Blog written by Deborah Cavanagh