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Old 08-21-2012, 07:39 PM   #1
Mickeyhead12
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Does it get easier? Or do the disappointments keep coming? LONG

I am sad. DD13 (gad, panic disorder, spd, possibly on the spectrum) has been taking horseback riding lessons for almost 2 years. Her instructor has been wonderful with her and DD9 (NT). The horse farm is wonderful too- a rescue farm with many different animals. It has pretty much been our refuge for the last 2 years, a calm, happy, relaxing place to retreat to when life, school, therapists etc got to be too much.

So last week DD was having a very hard time putting her hair up. There are a lot of changes coming up with school, new iicaps therapist etc so her anxiety level was raised and therefore sensory issues were heightened. The staff there was already frustrated or something when we got there to help bring in the horses (about 50 total) and I was stressed so I walked away when I heard the tension in their voices. DD kept going and tried to put her hair up. She ended up pulling it back down because it was bothering her. Before she could try to put it up again her instructor said something (in a very tense voice) and DD walked away. I didn't see the interaction but I'm sure it wasn't a nice, calm voice she used. Anyway, I tried explaining (again) the sensory issue and was pretty much dismissed. I got teary because there is so much going on and I was already stressed. I walked away again. The two instructors followed me out of the barn and started telling me that DD's instructor is over her head with DD and can't teach her anymore- that she will need to take lessons with the spec needs teacher on Sundays! I was so upset. I finally said I can't talk about this now and walked away.

I sent an email the next day about the situation- explaining how I tried to avoid an issue and that there is more going on here than DD's hair. Today I met with the woman in charge of the farm. She said DD's instructor has been telling her for a couple months that she can't handle teaching DD anymore. I guess they didn't tell me because they didn't have a solution. The spec olympic trainer is also a regular instructor who only recently got trained for special needs.

I guess my point is that my feelings are hurt for my daughter. She has done so well recently and moving forward and making a lot of progress. It really hurts to be told that her riding teacher can't, won't or doesn't want to teach her anymore (but does want to teach DD9).

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Old 08-22-2012, 06:14 AM   #2
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Unfortunately most programs lack the training and experience to support HFA/Aspergers kids. This is clear in this case since one of the 101 concepts is that if there are indications of issues you get together with the parents ASAP to gain a deeper understanding. Clearly this did not happen in this case and therefore if progressed to a critical outcome.
You and your daughter will have to deal with people who do not "understand", that is just the reality of the world we live in, but there are lots of supportive people to so do not let it get you or your daughter down.
Not having a proper ASD diagnosis does not help.
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:01 PM   #3
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hope things get better
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:35 PM   #4
rewardsinlife
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I am sorry you are going through this. Maybe the teacher has realized that this is not the profession they are meant to be a part of...not everyone has the skills needed to work their profession, and they don't figure it out till they are apart of it. It sounds like the teacher was already upset about something else and the tensions rose and were acted out on your DD.

What if you talked directly to the teacher and ask what you can do to help the situation. She may just feel at a loss of how to help your DD and can't see the progress that has happened. It may be something as simple as having your DD work on a task that she has been focusing on having her complete.

Example: I work with Special Needs students in music therapy. I have one student who was non-verbal, had extensive mental challenges, and was unable to take care of herself. She loved music so I tried to get her to sing songs. After 5 months, I started to get concerned that I was seeing no progress whatsoever. I would teach her the alphabet, and the next week she wouldn't know one letter from another. I would teacher her to hum, and then she wouldn't even reacall the song we had practiced 2 min. later. I was all about ready to say that I don't know if I am helping her, when her mother came up to me after a lesson and thanked me profusely for the progress her daughter had made. She hadn't made it in my sight during her lesson, but she had made strides at home. I eventually broke through and I could see the progress once I stopped trying to teach in ten million ways and just let her speak, listen, and feel the music. Sometimes, teachers focus so much on teaching, that they forget that benefits of having the child state what they have learned before going onto a new lesson.

I know you are upset now, but maybe once everything has calmed down a bit, tell the teacher how much these lessons and her teaching have helped your DD, and it might shed light on the situation and help her to challenge herself and your DD in a new positive way. Keep in mind, she only sees her maybe 2 hrs. out of the week, when you see her for hrs. on end. Progress is easier to see on long term, then in 2 short hours.

Good luck!
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:41 PM   #5
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I'm sorry. Would it be an option for you to "sit in" so to speak on a couple of the lessons? Maybe you can spot where the disconnect is, and help each side (your dd and the instructor) come together. Our dd is only 6 so it's easy for me to stay and explain her issues at her afterschool activities, but I can empathize with how this would be with an older child.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickeyhead12 View Post
I am sad. DD13 (gad, panic disorder, spd, possibly on the spectrum) has been taking horseback riding lessons for almost 2 years. Her instructor has been wonderful with her and DD9 (NT). The horse farm is wonderful too- a rescue farm with many different animals. It has pretty much been our refuge for the last 2 years, a calm, happy, relaxing place to retreat to when life, school, therapists etc got to be too much.

So last week DD was having a very hard time putting her hair up. There are a lot of changes coming up with school, new iicaps therapist etc so her anxiety level was raised and therefore sensory issues were heightened. The staff there was already frustrated or something when we got there to help bring in the horses (about 50 total) and I was stressed so I walked away when I heard the tension in their voices. DD kept going and tried to put her hair up. She ended up pulling it back down because it was bothering her. Before she could try to put it up again her instructor said something (in a very tense voice) and DD walked away. I didn't see the interaction but I'm sure it wasn't a nice, calm voice she used. Anyway, I tried explaining (again) the sensory issue and was pretty much dismissed. I got teary because there is so much going on and I was already stressed. I walked away again. The two instructors followed me out of the barn and started telling me that DD's instructor is over her head with DD and can't teach her anymore- that she will need to take lessons with the spec needs teacher on Sundays! I was so upset. I finally said I can't talk about this now and walked away.

I sent an email the next day about the situation- explaining how I tried to avoid an issue and that there is more going on here than DD's hair. Today I met with the woman in charge of the farm. She said DD's instructor has been telling her for a couple months that she can't handle teaching DD anymore. I guess they didn't tell me because they didn't have a solution. The spec olympic trainer is also a regular instructor who only recently got trained for special needs.

I guess my point is that my feelings are hurt for my daughter. She has done so well recently and moving forward and making a lot of progress. It really hurts to be told that her riding teacher can't, won't or doesn't want to teach her anymore (but does want to teach DD9).

I think your walking away from the situation (twice, by your account) has not helped - they may be giving you a hard time because they tried to talk to you about it and you turned away. When you 'avoid an issue' you are sending the message that you don't care about the situation, or can't handle it like an adult. That makes it very easy for a business to try to avoid having to deal with you in the future.

Now you are going to have to make amends with the instructors you walked away from, and your daughter's instructor and the owner of the place. This is going to have to happen before you can deal with the actual issue.

Once your bridges have been mended, approach the owner with a clear idea of how your daughter needs instruction given to her. Do you have key phrases at home that you use to let her know how to work through some of her issues? Is she telling you about any difficulties?

Hopefully, there will be someone at the farm who has a teaching style that will be in synch with your daughter's needs. If there isn't, could you ask them for referrals to other farms, if there are any in your area?
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Old 08-23-2012, 03:10 PM   #7
Mickeyhead12
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Thank you for the responses. I'm not sure I described the situation very well- trying to not make it any longer than it was.

We've been going to this farm for 2 years with the same instructor. I watch every lesson. The instructor and I email and text. I let her know if DD is having a hard time and I thought she was letting me know when there was something we needed to deal with.

During the summer and vacations we go early so we can help bring in the horses. DDs and I help. There are quite a few different paddocks of horses and only certain ones we are allowed to bring in due to different levels of training etc.

When I said I walked away I meant that I walked away from a couple different paddocks due to the angry tone in the 2 instructors voices- not talking to me- talking to others. I only did that because I was stressed and because there was enough volunteers to get the horses in those specific paddocks. I have never walked away from a conversation with the instructors- until they followed me out of the barn when I was in tears. One look at my face should have told them that it was not a good time to talk. I tried discussing the situation with them but was too emotional so I said I had to go and would talk later.

I've met with the woman who runs the farm. She apologized several times for the way things happened. They are suggesting that DD work with the special needs trainer. She is an experienced horse trainer and has recently gotten her special needs training. The problem is that DD loves her instructor and will feel bad if she has to change (she does NOT transition well) and her sister does not. Also, she volunteered with this instructor to help with the special olympics riders. This is going to be a big blow to her ego. She loves the special needs kids but has real self confidence issues and will feel badly that she can't have the regular instructor.

This is really a long complicated story. I guess in the end I'm just really hurt and disappointed that a place and people that we have relied on for 2 years to be our "happy" place where DD felt safe and welcome has turned into a place that is totally stressing me out. This is the worst time of year for this to happen. We have so much else going on.

Thank you again for listening.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:50 PM   #8
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I'm sorry, I have no experience with horseback riding, and was picturing you dropping off the kids, then returning after the lessons. I did misunderstand what you were saying.

Our younger dd takes gymnastics. They have bent over backwards to accomodate her special needs. It means a lot, and like you, I'd be really devastated if they changed everything out, especially with a younger sibling still continuing her lessons, with no changes.

Our older dd has a couple of friends who ride. These girls are really obsessed with the horses and everything related to them. I really don't even know what to say. This is a complicated situation, and I guess the only possible solution I can see other than the instructor having a change of heart, is to change stables altogether and start over. But then you open up a whole new set of issues.

I'm so sorry.
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Old 08-26-2012, 01:33 PM   #9
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I have no advice, but it makes me sad for your dd as well.

I hope you can find a good resolution.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:16 AM   #10
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Could you make switching to the new instructor a special opportunity for her somehow? I would also want the younger child changed too. This could lesson the blow for your older DD. The new instructor could be a really good thing. I often take the blame for things to lesson the impact for our son. Maybe you could present it as a better option that you feel would help her in her lessons?
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:17 PM   #11
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Like someone alluded to, what is the goal of the horseback riding?

For the instructor, the goal is probably to improve on her horseback riding skills. This may include learning responsiblity to help in grooming the horses too.
So maybe the instructor sees her paying more attention to her hair instead of the horses and she gets frustrated. Is he frustrated because she would like DD to pay attention? Is she worried about safety (not watching the horses is dangerous)? Is she frustrated because she needs help bring the horses in and DD isn't helping. Is she frustrated because she and the other students get less done because of her?

Your goals may be different. Yours may be that DD builds confidence, gets to participate in an activity that works with her particular issues, gets to enjoy an activity with her sister, gains balance, meets new people, learn responsibility, and probably last, actually gain riding skills.

The owner is in fact accomodating many of your daughter's needs by placing her with the special needs coach. That coach may recognize many of your goals more than the horseback riding goals. How different are the other special needs kids from your DD? Would she fit in or be so much more capable?

If your daughter is taking lessons only with her sister (i.e., her behavior is not affecting other students) and isn't causing safety issues, then maybe talk to the owner about the topic...that it is okay for things to move slower because having them learn together is an important part of the experience for you.
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