Sophia debuted as Matilda the Who in her high school musical, Seussical the Musical this past weekend. It's been two days since her final performance and I can't stop thinking about what an awesome job she did. We are proud beyond any words. It's times of these big successes that it's difficult not to think back to where we started and how far we have come. Here is a 15 year old young lady who can't read or do math past a third grade level, who struggles with severe anxiety and social relationships yet, worked hard, learned songs and difficult choreography and totally rocked the stage. Here was our Sophia who fit right in!
Sophia tried out for the musical in the Fall and has been going to practice 12-15 hours per week on top of school since January. The two weeks before the show they practiced nearly every day. There have been many (many) struggles but we worked through it all.
Perhaps you are reading this and thinking there is no way your son or daughter could do this. I'd like to suggest otherwise. Sophia's success in Seussical is rooted in a network of family, teachers, other parents and peers that have embraced Sophia -- all her differences and all her abilities. It all began years ago with with getting Sophia involved in community sports (Special Olympics, Topsoccer, therapeutic horseback riding), active in her school and our community. A lot of talking and educating others has gone on over the years. We pressed on through anxieties and difficult behaviors. We ignored looks and comments and kept putting our family "out there." Not only for people to accept our children but for our children to accept their community. Relationships developed and people began to know Sophia. More and more it has become an attitude of "how can we help Sophia." And so, we were able to drop Sophia off at practices and know that she would be okay. We knew that should Sophia have a problem either an adult or a peer would be able to help her out. Too big of a problem and they would call. The Directors all knew Sophia. Parents helping with the show could identify red flags. And most importantly, Sophia's peers treated her as a friend. Just last week, I was told of how during dress rehearsal the kids were told to go off stage and change into their next costume. So, doing as she was told, Sophia went off stage and began to change right there! Without making fun or laughing (okay, she was probably shocked to see Sophia standing there in her bra and underwear!) a friend simply reminded her that "we change in the bathroom."
We have learned that we can not navigate this life without a little help. Sophia needs a lot of support to navigate each day but she has proven beyond doubt that with the right pieces in place she can really succeed.
"And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three quarters percent guaranteed!"