Monday, 11 February 2013

First Girlfriend?

Sitting all by himself!
Felix and I had the best morning. It was the biggest group of kids, at the Special Needs Playgroup, I have ever seen there before. As I've mentioned, many times, Felix isn't a huge fan of a whole heap of noisy kids all in the one room, so I wondered how he would go today.

The little guy was a bit hesitant when we first arrived, but he warmed up really quickly. His teacher, Jackie, set up a pop up tent and a tunnel, which Felix loves, so he was pretty excited about that and started chatting and smiling. The parents, of the kids in the group, are all really friendly and they love Felix. They always make him feel welcome, by getting him to give them 'high fives' and bringing him the toys they know he likes to play with. When he's comfortable with the adults in the room, it makes it easier for him to adjust to all the little people who are there too.

He really likes 'mat time', and today he was very assertive in expressing how much he wanted it to start. He went and picked up a couple of photos, of other children from the group, and took them up to his teacher indicating he thought it was time to get started. She made the comment that it was the first time she'd ever been bossed around by Felix! It didn't take long for Jackie to round up all the kids and have them sitting on their chairs in a circle, ready for the welcome song; Felix's favourite part of the morning.

Incy Wincy Spider climbing up his arm
Usually, I sit Felix on my lap and, although he holds on fairly tight to me, he still enjoys participating from the safety of my knee. Today I really wanted to get a photo of Felix sitting on the chair by himself, next to the other children. I sat him on the seat and backed away, sitting in front of him. He leaned towards me, with his arms out, but Jackie distracted him by starting to sing the welcome song to the first child in the circle. To my absolute amazement, he relaxed back into the chair with a big smile. I was so excited, I started snapping away with my camera, only to realise I had left the memory card at home.... Oops! Thankfully, the sister of one of the other little boys in the group, came to my rescue and took a few photos of Felix for me.

Felix continued to sit beautifully the whole time. He got down from his chair and put his photo on the board and then happily sat back on the chair again. When the group sang 'Incy, Wincy Spider' Felix signed 'spider', running his fingers up his arm. I had a few tears in my eyes, seeing him sitting up on the chair, like an independent little boy, participating enthusiastically. It was the first time I had ever seen him so relaxed and attentive, without having a family member holding him. It's the small milestones that still continue to encourage me.

Listening carefully
There were so many special moments between the children this morning. Felix's little friend, Sophie, hasn't been able to come near Felix in about a year without him pulling away from her, or hiding his face. She sat next to him during mat time today, touching him on the arm occasionally, and Felix was totally fine with it, even reaching out to touch her at one point. It was fantastic! Another little boy from the group, who has Autism, often won't interact a lot with the other kids. This morning he went and sat down next to Felix, on the step outside, looked at Felix and said, "Hi". It was so cool to see him relating to Felix, and equally great to see Felix totally relaxed about another little boy sitting right next to him! To parents of 'typical' kids, this wouldn't seem like a big deal but I could tell, when I looked at the other little boy's Mum, that she was feeling the exact same way that I was; so proud.

When we left group this morning, Felix gave out cuddles, high fives and, best of all, he gave Sophie a kiss. He leaned in and gave her a sloppy one, right on her eye. She looked a bit disgusted and wiped it off, but then she puckered up and leaned forward to give him one on the cheek. He looked pleased, but still wiped it off; I mean, he wouldn't want to catch girl germs, would he?

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