She was just pedaling happily around what is the drop off circle.  Around and around.  

She finishes the ride and then ends the video by saying “There! Is that good?”  Every time I watch this, I think about the odd words from her at the end.  I say odd because here she was doing a really good job at skill that was challenging to teach to her. Instead of giving high fives or yelling, she asked that question.

I know that she was excited about her success because when we got home, she told me how proud of herself she was and that she really liked riding her bike.  

 Good, I thought.  

She has the skill.

She will bike often.

She will go biking happily.

That was 6 years ago.

And each and every year there is anxiety related to riding this bike.

Before the very first ride of the year There is  a lot of discussions to help her keep her anxiety down.  She is afraid to fall, to forget how to slow down, she asks how long she will be riding, will she be tired after and on and on.

Then after the first ride, she is hugely relieved.  But it is only after the 2nd or 3rd ride that she officially relaxes enough to enjoy it all.  It is like she gets her confidence back and trusts herself again….finally!

I have been quite perplexed by this particular pattern we do each and every summer.  This summer is no exception and as a matter of fact she is going out to do ride #3 tomorrow and is talking about it a lot  today.  

I know that her dyspraxia made even learning to ride a bike a very big challenge. From the motor planning aspect of it to the balancing to the eye accommodation needed to judge distances, it was all work.  Dyspraxia makes her day to day life work.  So learning how to put the correct supports into place is a really helpful thing.  It is just with something that is this big, those supports fail when her anxiety overrides them.  

And in this case it does. SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) creates anxiety and that anxiety is stronger than the supports, so the end result is anxiety.  

So what can we do for our children who struggle so much with certain things?

REDIRECTING

This year we are trying to help her by talking and discussing her feelings but I am now redirecting things to have her focus on something else.  I am saying things like “I know you are feeling nervous but lets talk about what we are going to cook this week.”  I want to try to get her mind off of the topic to let the anxiety go down a bit.  I am not denying her feelings just not letting them be the ONLY thing we talk about.

REVIEW

I try to sit with her and talk about the successes she has had.  We talk about the steps of biking that bother her.  Is it the stops or starts?  The crowds on the bike trail? Whatever it is we can talk about it but in the context of what can we do about it.  So it is like guided learning.  Encouraging her to know she CAN do something to help herself.

REASSURE

I watch Elizabeth’s face when I tell her that I am having a confusing day or feel overwhelmed and it is like she is relieved to know she isn’t the only one who feels this way.  I am sure she feels like life is hard work for her and ONLY HER. So it is reassuring for her to know she is not alone!  Truthfully, that is how we all feel.  So with that in mind, I reassure her that she is not alone in being scared, nervous etc. but that she needs to know all the good, strong things about herself.  To help her see how strong she really is.  Because our special needs children really are! EVERYDAY ALL DAY!

I am typing this as I wait for her to get done with her tutor.  (She is masked, outside, 6 feet from her tutor) but on the way here, she was telling me she didn’t feel like biking tomorrow.

I did the above and I know I will be doing it again throughout the day.

We know what our children CAN do and we know how we can help them succeed as best as they can.

I will let you know how the “Ride” goes.

I wish everyone a peaceful week and please wear a mask.  I do for my mom and others who could get really ill.

Michele Gianetti

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