I mentioned a while back that M was doing Unified Basketball at school, but then I realized I hadn’t ever talked about how many different things she’s done that are adaptive/unified since high school started.
Back when M was in middle school, I kept trying to get her to do things. Student council? Nope. W.E.B. Leader? No, thank you. Best Buddies? [insert nose wrinkle here]. It was pretty irritating, actually. M spent middle school not struggling with homework, not fretting about social situations, and apparently bypassing any perceptible “awkward age,” and Cute W and I felt that she should be using her Middle School Super Powers for Good in her own little corner of the universe. But she just wasn’t into it.
When M started high school, I was really glad that she happened to have her JV soccer coach for gym, and that she happened to have a study hall right afterwards when this coach was teaching an Adaptive PE class. Basically, the Adaptive PE class is made up of kids with specials needs or physical/cognitive issues and kids from the general student population. So they’re all getting exercise, but it’s nice to have mainstream kids as helpers to help steer kids in the right direction, make sure that nobody’s feeling left out, and so on. M’s coach asked if she’d be willing to spend her study hall to help with the adaptive gym class, and M agreed and turned out to really like it.
When it was time for the second semester, M was a little bummed out because she didn’t have that study hall anymore, but as it turned out she was able to switch her regular PE class to an adaptive PE class instead, so that worked out great.
Then her coach recruited her for the Unified Basketball Team. It’s one of the newer sports programs at the school, and it’s an official spring sport, although the practices are definitely more low-key than your average school team. Again, it’s a blend of kids with specials needs or physical/cognitive issues and kids from the general student population. Among the mainstream kids, some of them are very good at basketball and some of them are very good at helping their peers, and M definitely falls into the latter category. But she had so much fun! And the games were so lovely to watch. Each team really would try to win, but they’d also hold back and let all the kids get a chance to play and take shots. And fans cheer for everybody, pretty much, especially if someone struggles and manages to make a basket. It’s just unbelievably good sportsmanship all-around. There’s a special cheer squad, too, and sometimes the band plays.
The Niskayuna Unified Basketball team just finished a great season, finishing fourth in their division! Take a look at what the team is all about.
Posted by Niskayuna Central School District on Thursday, June 8, 2017
M had SO much fun playing Unified Basketball. The whole experience was excellent, and at our end-of-season picnic we were surprised to find out that players got a varsity letter! Pretty funny that M’s lettered in basketball before soccer.
When she can, M also attends All Star Sports Club, which is another blend of kids just playing sports together after school for fun. This year M was once again able to shuffle her schedule to do Adaptive PE as her gym class, plus she signed up to do some applied arts course that’s a mix of students. She’s so happy. She reported that for her applied arts class she gets to sit next to her friend W (he’s the first boy interviewed in the video above), and I said, “W! You totally scored!” because he is a well-loved character, and she gushed, “I know, right? I totally did!” Then she recounted a story about him playing a trick on her and how fun it is to hang out with him. I am so grateful that her coach recruited her for this in the first place, because it’s been absolutely wonderful. I’m pretty sure that if it had been my idea, it never would have happened. But honestly, I don’t think I ever would have come up with the idea. She is loving all of these activities, and I never, never would have predicted that she would.
Here’s the deal: M is not patient. She is not patient with her parents, who are hopelessly uncool and think that they’re so smart about everything when they’re totally not; she is not patient with her sister, who is under the impression that she has just as much right to be in the world and use the shower as M; she is not patient with teammates who show up late or complain about running; and she has stated multiple times that she is never having children because children are just so annoying. In other words, to have this nurturing kind of role emerge as one of M’s favorite activities is really a huge surprise. But it is a good surprise.
<<On the topic of special needs, there is a new business in Ballston Spa, We Rock the Spectrum, which is an indoor play gym that caters to kids with special needs. I was super-excited to hear about it, because this is a franchise, and my KidsOutAndAbout colleagues who work around the country have said that their readers absolutely love it. So if you know someone local who might appreciate it, spread the word.>>