Challenge Air is a program that allows children to actually fly an airplane. Cameron first did it when he was four years old, but when he was five he really got how special and thrilling an experience it was. Check out this look of utter glee and excitement and delight:
That's something super precious. He talked about how he "banked the plane" for years. I'll admit having your young child holding the controls of a plane when you're way up in the air is a wee bit stressful, but when he looked back at me with this face... the delight and pride and joy he felt was palpable... it lasted, it's priceless. I use this photo as my phone wallpaper to this day.
Last year, Cameron scuba dove for the first time with this program. The first thing he told me when getting out of the water was... he was awesome. He knew how hard it had been to overcome the sensory challenges of using a regulator and he was super proud of himself. He went again this year and finished off swaggering up the steps and handing me a piece of giant kelp as a present.
Finally, at ten years old, my kiddo didn't know how to ride a bike. His classmates would zoom by and he'd get that look, but he said he didn't want to learn. He was willing to attend this day camp though that focused on helping special-needs kids learn how to ride a bicycle gradually. We got back last week and he's no longer part of that statistic of 80% of kids with Autism who never learn to ride a bike. He can head off down the road with his dad, head high.
So, on a rough day, I wanted to celebrate these programs that help add sparkles to the steeper climb of kiddos with additional challenges. Thank you Challenge Air, Special Kids Scuba, and iCan Bike.