Today was a very special day in our household.
It was Surfing Day.
Last year, Riley was privileged to be included in the Surfer's Healing Camp - a surfing camp for those with Autism. The entire concept is mind blowing and amazing, and I often feel like a bit of a poser participating.
Since I'm all about telling the complete and total truth, the first three years of her life were so, so hard. Incredibly difficult and draining. It wasn't until we went to a developmental pediatrician, who gave me a diagnosis on a prescription pad - a paper that I stil have, to this day - and a glimmer of hope. She wasn't just strong willed, I wasn't a bad parent, she wasn't lacking discipline - she had something different about her that made ordinary coping skills virtually non existent.
He told me how she was wired was different than typical, but something we'd learn to deal with and that she'd have to learn coping techniques - but it'd be ok.
He promised. And I held him to that promise.
And it was. We went to occupational therapy - which was suck ass draining and so, so depressing that I cried EVERY SINGLE VISIT for the first six months - and paid out of pocket for it, because insurance didn't cover OT, claiming it was experimental. I fought the refusal of services. Was denied that claim. Took the insurance company to the state board and was turned down as well. Fought it again and finally got a bit of the money back.
But, our new insurance - we just started with it this month - now covers OT for Autistic conditions - a very recent happening, I was told. A fact that I find *super* interesting.
I love this picture SO HARD - because until she was four - we didn't take her to the beach. Every outing was tears and tantrums and screams and stares. She hated the ocean, the sand was like knives, and I left, mentally exhausted.
She's done SO well recently that I feel almost as if people don't believe me when I say something. I get "that look". I don't usually say anything - just for that fact. After all, she's mainstreamed, and this year - she started talking in school. This was HUGE. HUGE. At the end of this school year, it was the number one comment made to me about her. The kid didn't speak to anyone unless it was an extreme situation - but this year was amazing for her. She's grown tremendously. Along the way, there have been tears - so, so so many tears on both of our parts - and tantrums and screaming and a memorable day that I started crying about a situation - and I called on my friends when I was so overwhelmed and just could not stop crying.
That was a banner day. I didn't write about it here.
But she's doing so well that I feel guilty about taking her to the Surfer's Camps - especially when I see kids who are so much worse off than she is. Today, my friend Brian was there - a surfer from my area whose son is a friend to Riley - and so I told that little voice in my head, the one that says, you are a poser and she doesn't belong here and why are you taking a spot from someone who deserves it so much more - I told that voice to take a hike and we went to Surf Camp.
Just like last year, she went out twice - and was flatly finished. She'd had enough. She wanted to play, she wanted to dig in the sand - but she wasn't going on a board again. She didn't share a reason, and I didn't pry, other than to offer once or twice.
The cool thing about the mini camp that was today, as opposed to the big camp in August, is the fact that siblings can surf after the participants do - and Emma and Mackenzie were RIGHT THERE.
Brian was nice enough to take each of them out. He's got mad surfing skills - I don't have that gift. If I got on a surf board, I'm so bottom heavy I'd fall off the back. He taught Mackenzie enough that she was able to go out by herself.
Brian is an awesome guy to take my kids out there - something I can't do for them. I can't surf.
What I can do is write. And say Thank You - to anyone who works with Surfer's Healing Camp for Autism. For Team Hoyt, the main crew today. To all of those people who unselfishly went out of their way today to help moms and dads feel better - to provide a bit of hope, a bit of help, and some healing - especially for those parents who are at the end of their rope in dealing with those wonderful quirky kids.