During our trip to Florida, which consisted not only of the most enjoyable time spent with friends, but also an adventure for my son that lead him down the road of many first experiences… all starting with his first time flying. One of the most amazing highlights of the trip was our visit to the Miami Seaquarium. It was here that we not only learned about and spent time with some incredible marine life, but my son was given the opportunity to swim with the dolphins. The memories from this are ones that we will both treasure forever! There really are no words that I can share which would express the emotions, as a mom, that I experienced watching him participate in this program… though one might say the tears of joy might have been one sign of just how much it meant to me for him to be able to be a part of something so wonderful.
Every aspect of this was incredible… from the trainers and staff, to the dolphins, to the fact that my son decided that, even though this was something new, it was worth 100% of his effort to follow through, and almost completely on his own. The usual apprehension and anxiety that comes with trying many new things, I don’t think even crossed his mind. This was all just too exciting for him… and his reactions throughout only reinforced that fact.
As I watched him in the water interacting with the dolphins, I had a grin on my face that probably went from ear to ear seeing the absolute joy on his face. He doesn’t have the ability to hide emotions which means the lows can be difficult, but the highs… oh, those are the moments that I, like any parent, treasure so much. He was thrilled to be able to be in the water experiencing this… and his excited stimming was right there along with him. I have shared many times before how much I love his stims… they are a sign of pure joy and happiness! What parent wouldn’t love that!
The group worked with the trainers and performed many different activities with a variety of dolphins. They actually all had to get out of the pool at one point as one of the dolphins was… well… misbehaving, and had to be put in a time out! Removing the positive reinforcement of having people in the pool to play with was essentially, his timeout. I actually giggled about it, but it was a very serious issue among the trainers.
It then came time for everyone to have the opportunity to actually ‘swim’ with Star. I waited in anticipation and excitement… eager to see how he was going to do. He did exactly what he was instructed to do and had the time of his life, calling out a big “WOOHOO” during his ride to the other end of the pool! I was so incredibly proud of him, and yes, with even more tears of joy! The grin he wore – I think I can honestly say – I have NEVER seen a smile on him as big as I did at that very moment.
My son has always had a love for animals which seems to grow each and every day. At this rate, I may have to buy a zoo! I hope that one day he will be able to experience this again, but until then, we have the memories and some fantastic photos to be able to look back and reminisce about… which we do often.
Until next time…