Monday, December 25, 2017

Zach and Sondra

Our son Zach is 14 years old and attends 9th grade at Chanhassen High School. He is enrolled in the Autism In Motion program. The other programs in the Special Education Department are designed for kids with other special needs such as Down Syndrome, Significant Learning Delays and Severe Physical Impairments.

Zach loves school. He loves adaptive phy-ed where he enjoys basketball, tennis and occasionally floor hockey. He also enjoys walking on the indoor track on the mezzanine level of the gym and riding a three wheeled adaptive bike.  He enjoys digital photo class where he is given a scavenger list and must find specific things in his school to take pictures of each day.

During quieter times, Zach enjoys work boxes and his job skills class. Zach enjoys his classmates but tends to gravitate towards quieter friends who will not have sudden loud outbursts or upsets.  Zach wears his headphones most of the time at school to block out said sudden loud noises.

Zach's best friend at school is Sondra. Such an amazing sweet girl with a smile on her beautiful face from ear to ear. Sondra has Quadriplegic Spastic Cerebral Palsy, is wheel chair bound, isn't able to speak much, but is able to communicate her wishes and emotions clearly.  Zach and Sondra moved from the junior high last year to the high school this year together.

Sondra and her mom Ashley met us a couple of times at the library this past summer. The kids enjoy being silly together and Zach will get down on the floor to kneel at Sondra's eye level and say, "I bet you've never seen an orange rhino before!!!"  And the two will laugh and laugh as Zach says it to her over an over again. Ashley and I as their moms, have no idea where this amazing affection for each other has come from. But we are so very thankful for this authentic mutually beneficial relationship.

Zach will not seek out the companionship of other kids. He will sit near them, be kind to them, but never try to play with them or interact with them unless they are prompted. But with Sondra, he will seek her out, find her and wheel her to a place where they can sit together. He will push her wheel chair around the track and bring her indoors if he is cold, as she may also be cold. Often without saying a word, he watches over her, protects her and entertains her.

Zach enjoys reading, but only for short periods of time and only about things he is interested in. Holiday books are a big deal for Zach. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Fall and Halloween. He can't get enough. We check the same books out of the library multiple times every year.  Reading book after book after book. Occasionally taking a break to talk about orange rhinos. I love this picture and will treasure it always.  They both look so genuinely happy.  To be with a friend and have a great book in hand. I can't think of anything better.

No, Zach will probably not graduate to chapter books or ever read a novel. But then why would he want to?  The simple sentence beautifully illustrated books which can entertain the kids for hours brings them both so much joy.  And I adore that these kids can and will find a way of communicating with each other by just being next to each other and reading with each other.

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