Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hope for Hunter

I sat there in awe watching a 9 year old boy who has Autism ride into the arena. Until that moment I thought he was just a rider, there learning the basics of riding a horse. As the owner and I spoke the two children on horses rode about the big arena and I made contact back and forth with her as I watched in awe as this young boy on a horse that had to be close to 17 hands tall rode with such confidence and ease. Once he was out of earshot she told me before starting at her facility he was in a contained classroom and unable to interact with peers, lacked in social skills along with self help skills. He is Autistic and when we were watching him I would have never assumed at all. I can spot a child more often than not a mile away but this time he was not on my radar. How? He was following directions, riding a giant horse unattended, making eye contact, and the real mind blowing part... When asked to tie up the horse where he was placed prior to the start of class he did, he even was then quickly untacking his horse after dismounting the horse all on his own.
Three years ago I was told this was not even in the forefront of their minds. That it was all they could do to get through the session and get him to ride. I looked down at H and started thinking this could be him. I just smiled. I felt comfort and peace suddenly. My child one day will ride unassisted and be completely self sufficient as this young boy has. The goal of the program.... complete independence. I love it. I want H to find his way through this life. To not need us as much as we might think he really does.
Chris and I had a fleeting conversation recently, we discussed the kids leaving the house and going off on their own. We snapshotted each child's departure and how we would anticipate how it would go. When we got to H we paused. We simply said he would stay with us a bit longer than his siblings. It makes you a bit sad but I feel one day he could live without us, maybe with a roommate or in a group setting. Heck he might just surprise us get married and do just fine.
I went back to watching this young boy moving about taking the tack off and not showing any signs of frustration when he was struggling. In fact the look he gave one of the volunteers was so quick and so calm I almost didn't catch what had happened. A smile came across the boys face as he carried his equipment off. Wow! It is possible to face a struggle and NOT completely lose it and let it ruin the session, the moment. I started to feel more hope and excitement. I think this is it. This is the place we needed to be. It felt like home, it felt like family.
This whole evening my mind has been caught drifting back to the possibilities that are now in store for not only for him but for us collectively as a family. Doors could possibly open that we might have thought would be shut for him. His education could be just as his siblings when we thought special education would be the norm for us. To some it might just seem like riding a horse but after what I saw tonight it was more like riding into a future of hope and endless possibilities.

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