You'd never know Leo hit an extremely rough patch last week if you only saw the great time he had this past weekend at his friend I.'s birthday party at AcroSports in San Francisco:
He ziplined! OMFG! And the graceful way he skipped down that trampoline -- I could watch Leo prance, all day.
The photo below doesn't quite capture the glee on our boy's face as he bounced and swung in the giant bungee contraption. (Better pix of Leo in our friend Chris's photo essay about how to talk to parents of kids with autism.) I'm so glad we went -- I was on the edge about Leo not being able to participate and possibly disrupting the party -- but I have learned to have faith in our boy's love of fun, and cupcakes (though the latter enthusiasm started to spiral toward the party's end, so we made a quick exit so as to be thought of as flighty rather than party-destroyers).
Leo also had a wonderful, wonderful time ten days ago as a guest of RideAWave.org, an all-volunteer organization that enables a day of full-on surfing, kayaking, and boogie boarding for kids with special needs like Leo, or completely unlike Leo -- doesn't matter as long as they're up for a day at the beach. Here's our boy rocking out on a boogie board:
All geared up and ready to go (in 58° F water, brrrr, but Leo didn't mind).
Beach Wheelchair! Like I said, EVERYONE got to go in the water. You hear that, Jennnyalice? Everyone.
And EVERYONE got to go surfing. Everyone.
Iz even found a way to keep Mali busy while Leo was hanging ten.
Smiling for the camera with his medal, and his friendly beach buddy John -- who stayed by his side all day and made sure Leo's fun was maximized. Lucky, lucky boy.
I would love to see a RideAWave-like movement happen at AcroSports -- they're a community center, after all. The AcroSports staff was great with Leo -- they treated him like any other kid -- but they don't appear to have dedicated programs for our kids. They also have to charge extra for large parties of kids with special needs because of the staffing requirements, and probably because of their tight not-for-profit budget. But could you imagine a full day of bungeeing, ziplining, and trampolining for all our kids -- free of charge, staffed by volunteers, and open to every single kid who wants to go? I think it's a matter of finding the right person to spearhead the project. If I could Madrox myself, I'd be on it. In the meantime, I think Leo will be returning to both places whenever possible.