From the beginning Nevin would grab a broken twig or any long branch and would swing it back and forth. We did not take notice of it. Going to the dollar stores or any kind of store that display play swords, he will jump at the opportunity to have us purchase it. At home, he will swing it back and forth trying to imitate the character he plays on one of his PlayStation 2 games. If he had another sword to offer, he will then play sword fighting game with one of us.
A video movie of Zorro was on the stands at Wal-Mart. We purchase the video and took it home and he watched the video almost every day. And every single time, Nevin will imitate Zorro’s actions. Last Halloween, he dressed up as Zorro.
If he is not playing around with a sword, Nevin is in the computer on youtube looking at cartoons and watching some of Zorro’s movies from the past. One day, he googled fencing on the net and a site here in Edmonton popped up on the screen. It was engarde fencing and they were on the northwest of Edmonton. He was very excited to let us know what he has discovered. The timing was just right because their new session was just about to begin.
First, I enrolled him on the over 12 beginner class. Observing him for the first two weeks, I figured that he just doesn’t fit there. I spoke to the coach/teacher that he has a difficulty in understanding. The class had a lot of students and the teacher/coach tried to modify and simplify the class but it was just too hard for Nevin to understand the concepts. He would try to imitate one of the students but did not really pay attention to the teachings. When the coach tried to let him does it on his own, he could not do it. I had to a couple of times intervened.
They had a parent/child session class on Saturdays and there was an opening. We transferred to that class and attended every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. A typical class always starts with the stretching and then warm-ups and then doing the fencing concept, like how to do the lunge, proper leg stance, defending yourself with the sword and how to strike your opponent. There were number of parent/child attending in that class. Just before this session was about to come to a close, there was a tournament and it was opened for everybody who was a member. At the tournament, Nevin went against students that were there for a number of years already. He scored and fared well for a new comer. He won one and lost the rest. Winning that one put a big smile on his face. He made it through to the second round but that’s where it ends. He enjoyed every minute of it and walked out with a lot of pride and satisfaction. Before the tournament, he kept telling me that he will win a medal. There is always next time.
We purchase the complete fencing equipment gears so we could start practicing at home to what the coach taught us in class. Every day, I could see improvements in his fencing.
For our second session parent/child, about halfway to the session, the coach suddenly quit and had to move on. The parent/child session for the weekend was cancelled. Nevin had to take one of the classes that were open for his age and status. No parent was allowed to participate. I was just a spectator. He had to attend every Thursday evening. They had one of the young advance students who was designated as the coach, started teaching the class. Nevin and another kid was the only student in this class. During this session, he blossomed because the attention was to both of them. It was perfect. He quickly learned a lot and paid more attention. Regular School was coming to an end and most of the students attending other sports beside this had prior commitments. So, there was no tournament for the second session. On the last day of this session, the student coach created a mini-tournament for us. Two parents and two students, when this tournament was done, Nevins classmate came in first place, one of the parents came in second and Nevin and I were in third place. It was lots of fun and it was a blast. Nevin enjoyed every minute of it.
The third class session is about to begin on September 18. The parent/child is on again on Saturdays with a new coach. Nevin has been asking a lot about the class and looking forward to it.
By Neilzon Viloria
* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism and special needs experience.