Jasper Lynn joins in the A to Z fun during April. Today our post celebrates the letter H.
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Horsing Around for Good Reasons
Christy sat down on the couch next to her mother. A pouty frown filled her face. “I waved to Thomas next door. He didn’t wave back.”
Christy’s mom stretched her arm out and pulled Christy close to her. She hugged her. “He probably didn’t see you.”
“He had to see me. I was standing right in front of him,” Christy insisted.
“Remember? Thomas has autism. Sometimes he’s just in his own special world. He wasn’t being rude. Sometimes he just sees the world differently.”
“Is that why sometimes when we play, he sits there and rocks? Or, he stacks his blocks in piles, counting them over and over?”
“That’s why.” Christy’s mom nodded her head in agreement.
A puzzled look crossed Christy’s face. “I wondered why sometimes he plays differently than my other friends. And he only eats certain foods.”
“He can’t help it. Thomas is Thomas. Just because his world is not the same as yours doesn’t mean it’s bad, or wrong. It’s like lemons. I love eating lemon pie. But you don’t.”
“Yuck! Lemons are nasty. I don’t like lemon anything,” Christy said.
“Exactly! But Daddy and I do like lemons. Some people don’t like chocolate. Some people can’t eat strawberries or peanuts. The world is made up of different people. That’s what makes each one of us special. We are all special in our own way.”
“I like chocolate though. Can I have a cookie?” Christy asked.
“Sure. But I don’t think we have any with chocolate right now.”
Christy made a face. “As long as it’s not a lemon cookie.”
They went in the kitchen. Mom went to the cookie jar and opened it. She held out a fresh cookie. “Oatmeal okay?”
Christy smiled a huge smile, showing off the gap where her front teeth used to be. She gobbled it down and went to play.
A few days later, while Christy was at school, Thomas’s mom came over to talk to Christy’s mom. “Can Christy go horseback riding with Thomas tomorrow?”
“Of course she can. I’ll ask her when she gets home. But I’m sure she’ll love to. I didn’t know that Thomas rode horses.”
“Tomorrow will be his first time. He’s a little nervous,” Thomas’s mom shared. “That’s why I thought if Christy was with him, he’d feel more comfortable. He doesn’t like change very much. Having a familiar friend there would help him.”
“Will he be able to ride and handle a horse?” Christy’s mom asked.
“He won’t be riding all by himself. It’s a special program for children with autism. It’s called equine therapy. At first the children just brush the horses and help groom them. Then they learn to saddle them and lead them. As they get used to being around the horses, they can ride them, with a trainer holding the lead line.”
“Thomas should enjoy it,” Christy’s mom said. “I know Christy will.”
Thomas’s mom smiled. She pulled a flyer from her back pocket. “The best part is how it will help him. Look here…it says…the horseback riding program helps with the children’s independence and confidence. It increases their self-awareness. They learn other life skills, such as problem solving. Coordination and speech often improve too. Plus, the children often bond with the horses, caring about them. I was so happy to see this. And the stable with this program is nearby, too.”
“That’s terrific. I wish every child with autism had a chance like this,” Christy’s mom said.
“Me too!” Thomas’s mom agreed. “I hope it all works well. If it does, Thomas and I – and Christy – will be spending a lot of time there this summer. This will be the summer we spend horsing around.”
Christy’s mom had a feeling that when Christy walked in the house and heard the news, she’d be one happy girl. Spending time with a friend, seeing a friend learn new helpful skills, and having fun with a horse, too. What could be better than that?
Horsing Around for Good Reasons is a story from This and That Too, scheduled for release in May 2020.