I knew that my plan to enroll her in parent-and-child gymnastics classes was a good one! (And apparently Sasha needs them, too!)
We started today at the Spring Hill location of Let It Shine, the same organization through which I took gymnastics classes as a kid. She had so much fun! (And I kind of kind of loved it, too!) We spent the first 15 minutes working our way through an obstacle course, which included activities like climbing up and going down a slide, walking on two stripes (that will eventually turn into crab walking or bear crawling), doing a very rudimentary cartwheel over a bolster, trying out a forward roll down a slope, etc. Then we moved into the big gym and bunny-hopped and/or ran down the tumbling track (think huge mattress with sides), rode a zipline (on a seat and being supported, of course), walked on balance beams, jumped on the trampoline and, yes, jumped into the foam pit! (The foam pit is a big pit with a trampoline at the bottom, filled with foam cubes. It's fun to get lost in, to wiggle in, to bounce in, really to do anything in. Everyone loves the foam pit! Is this a Let It Shine thing, or do most gyms have them?)
Becca did really, really well, considering that it was her first class and given her sensory issues. I often talk about her sensory issues in relation to her eating, but they also come into play (in a big way) with gross motor skills. Since her vestibular (balance) centers are wonky and she doesn't have good proprioception (the ability to know where you are in space and in relation to objects and such), skills like standing, walking, running, jumping (and even earlier skills like crawling) are difficult for her (hence the delays). At the same time, though (I feel like I say that all the time...sensory issues are so complicated!), since she is hypo-sensitive, generally speaking, (meaning that she doesn't really feel things correctly), she seeks sensory input she can feel well, like rolling, spinning, swinging (depending on the direction), shaking and generally rough-housing.
Gymnastics, then, is perfect therapy for her! It works many of the areas that need to be worked by doing things that she loves to do! And actually, her physical therapy sessions these days really do look a lot like gymnastics class, complete with a pit (not foam, but similar), a balance beam, stairs and a track. (There are also other exercises, like kicking a ball, that we do that aren't really gymnastic-y, but they all work together.) And since Becca is so social (if you know her in person, you are smiling now, right? Because she's really beyond social. :) ), the class setting is ideal for her. She loves to watch other kids and then jump right in. According to her (new) occupational therapist (who is great but is no Karla B. ;) ), since things feel weird and unstable to her, she depends more on watching other kids (or people in general) do things to know that they are okay. The good thing is that with her personality, she doesn't just watch for very long!
And I'm not going to lie; I really liked getting to meet other caregivers of young kids in the area (mostly moms, but one dad and one grandmother). I'll also confess that while I certainly don't want to put any pressure on Becca to become a star athlete at age 2, I also have some long-term motivation in enrolling her in gymnastics. Becca can and will do whatever she wants in terms of extracurriculars (as long as we can manage it logistically and financially), but I also want to introduce her to the areas that might be a little easier for her. Let's face it: she's not built like your average WNBA star. Of course I'd never say that she's not going to play and love basketball, but it makes sense to start her off with activities in which she's not already at a disadvantage because of her size. I mean, she is still our Itty Bitty - but I'm not about to be the one to tell her so! :)
p.s. Big thanks to Aunt Daphne and Uncle Rob (and crew), Martha S., and Cousin Mary Lou, our gymnastics "sponsors" for September and October classes! :)