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Special Needs School


The Impossible, is Possible.

Jax was flying fast on his ski’s down the mountain. Smiling and happy in the freedom of the movement, his aide guiding his direction. The ability to gain speed as he rushed down the steeper angle filled all his senses and was just what he loved… the input of movement. There was something else that no one else could see but those of us that witnessed it. His beaming pride, his radiant self confidence, his courage, his beautiful free innocent soul. He had accomplished it and that would stay with him forever. He has a new road map for JOY, not just a new activity he can love, but a new way to find success, to feel his inner strength and believe in himself. That can be applied in any new situation and with practice gets easier and easier.

How did he get there? What was there? I’ll tell you. There is one thing that Jax teaches me over and over. It’s to never give up, always try. Sometimes it’s just all about giving someone the chance to have their own timing they need. Don’t we all need that space to thrive in our own way? I so want that too. The rushing, fast pace of life, the demands, the expectations, it all presses on us. Even more so for Jax for he takes in significantly more than most of us. He is my barometer, my reminder of all the ways things can overwhelm us and the beauty in simplicity, space, freedom and how those key elements can create the opportunity for growth. Without them, we are cramped in and stuck into our old habits and routines. We need the chance, a new way, but it doesn’t happen just on it’s own.. you have to create that space and allow for the openness to then let it fill with the growth you are seeking. We get so tense around change that we close up that fleeting chance in all our anxiety to hold onto what is familiar. We stay with limited perspective because it’s what we know even when we’ve far outgrown that place. We make excuses, we get negative, we find all the reasons to avoid that open, vast feeling of potential because that openness can feel so unknown it is terrifying. What if you were to just be open, without expectation and let the unknown unfold? What is the worst that can happen? You get hurt? You fail? You are rejected? Aren’t you already in pain confined to the shoes you’ve outgrown?

Here is how this looked for Jax. Skiing was a new activity for Jax. It was amazing to see how well he suited up in his boots, helmet and all the heavy gear. Even running in his boots! I think the input suited him. He was just around 5 years old, so little in all this big heavy ski stuff. He loved the snow and sensory feeling of the cold wetness on his face. But movement, that has always been his jam. I couldn’t wait to see how he would feel on skis. It was, like most things, a huge unknown. It could stress him out and we’d have to work to regulate him and calm him down, but these things always were worth trying. The only reason not to try, IS OUT OF FEAR. If you are making choices from fear, it can never be the right choice.

We meet his instructor at the base of mountain. She is at an adaptive sports school for people with disability, Achieve Tahoe. They are phenomenal and truly care about their clients which became very evident after a few times taking Jax skiing with them. She is awesome, friendly and collaborative. Perfect.

Jax takes a few shuffles with the skis, moves a bit.. and then she takes him to the ski lift. This is where he can actually get up to the carpet and start building his skills. She will go with him, I stay behind. I’m hesitant because I know that will be hard for him. We give him his music toy for sensory calming and I push him towards the lift staying with them as long as I can. The operator tells me to step aside and I pretend I don’t hear him. His turn comes and he flops on the ground crying. He’s stressed, his instructor is unsure. The lift passes. The line is backing up. We try again but he flops again. Scooting to the side to make way for the rest of the skiers we re-group. We decide to walk up the mountain to the magic carpet and try again later. The mountain looks pretty steep and it’ll be a climb but it’s worth it.

And here is that moment… where you want to stop. It seems hard. You look at the mountain and think, “Ugh, that is going to hurt”. And you know what? It does. They don’t call it hard work for nothing. I take my kids, my bags, my au pairs myself and we haul our butts up the mountain, step by step. As it always is. I don’t stop, I’m like a train on course that won’t delay until I reach the destination unless I’m derailed. I’m sweating by the end, helping him, myself, his little bro, carrying it all. I forget about my own body in these moments and I just do what is in front of me — often I am so grateful I have that mental ability carried over from years of discipline doing ballet. But here it is: the not so grand magic carpet.
We play here for a bit and he learns some skills. He’s happy! Loves the carpet moving. Loves the skiing. It’s not perfect, we are a mess, but it’s amazing. Movement is king for this kiddo. He’s done a lot but he’s ready for more, which means he’d need to tackle his fear of the ski lift. We take a little snack break.. what is our next move? His instructor wants to end on a high note understandably, he’ll be back again to ski tomorrow, so she suggests staying with the carpet and ending there. I get the sense that he can get through the ski lift if he can just understand the process and have the time he needs…
…so I start to tell him about the ski lift. I talk to him about the skiers getting on and off. Now, Jax is Autistic. So while I’m talking to him he’s looking this way and that, hardly at all at me. He’s even walking away from me almost out of earshot. To anyone else they would think he wasn’t absorbing what I was saying and I’m pretty sure his instructor and most everyone around me had the easy impression I was little out of my mind(perhaps not totally inaccurate, but not in this case!). I kept describing it to him, pointing things out and telling him that if he could do the ski lift he would get to go faster, for longer, on his skis. That I would be right there at the top, waiting for him. I let that sit with him for a bit. We took off his skis and we were in the snow sitting there playing.
Jax and Snow
snow playing
in the snow playing

Suddenly, he gets up. He walks over to the ski lift near us (for a different line) and watches it. I notice and point this out to this instructor. I still think most people wouldn’t put two and two together but I knew just what he was doing. He was processing it, he heard me, he took it all in. It just LOOKS DIFFERENT on him than others. Interesting how we have all this expectation about what attention should look like.

A few more glances at the ski lift near us, one look up to the top of the hill where the ski lift would drop him off and he suddenly turns and runs down the mountain…

….. he is heading to his ski lift!!! I tell his instructor to quickly grab his skis and follow him, that I’ll meet her at the top. I ask my au pair to run down to the base of the mountain with them to watch if he gets on or not. He’s already out of sight. I race up (as fast as racing can be in snow boots and up a snowy mountain) to where the ski lift drops off up top. I’m running by skiers and snowboarders, breath is heavy, I don’t want to not make it in time! I arrive and I breath a sigh of relief that I won’t disappoint him by not being there.. and I wait…. Wait.. wait… I don’t know if he got on, if he is freaking out at the bottom of the mountain and they need me… the unknown is building in me and I am breathing through it…. and then…. I see him. THERE HE IS. In all his amazing courageous glory calm as can be looking down at the ground. I think he’s enjoying it! His instructor is grinning and also totally focused on the upcoming dismount. She asks them to slow down…. And he gets off smoothly, without a hitch. Amazing!! He is amazing!


It felt like I was beaming through my ski clothes. All the love inside of me I had for this kiddo came bursting out as I yelled “You did it Jaxie! YOU DID IT!” He had a huge smile while looking directly into my eyes, but not for too long. He turned and looked back at the ski lift and smiled. His pride was palpable. Tears rushed down my face in all the joy and release and amazement of him. Time went fast as his instructor was right there, keeping him moving and whoosh…

down he went the mountain. Rain after them as much as I could see them, trying to capture it all in my mind’s eye. I yelled to my au pair to follow them as she was already half way down the mountain. He made it all the way. He was happy. He loved the speed of the movement. And

.. and then… he went right back on that ski lift again.

Jax on ski lift

And oh, how this amazing little boy teaches me to LIVE. To LOVE. To GROW. To HEAL. To ALWAYS BE OPEN TO TRY.

The Impossible, is Possible. Believe, open, make space, have courage to feel uncomfortable and allow… whatever will be…, just allow.. feel the beauty of that vulnerable space in you changing all your cells, letting them come alive with newnesss.. and there it is. Your change, your chance, your dream. All possible to achieve.

What is in you that you hold with quiet deep hope so tight it can’t breath? What is in you longing to escape so it can create that ultimate dream? Let it go, let it flow and it will grow and grow and grow. Just don’t give up on you, like I won’t ever give up on him. I so believe in you too.

I see him smiling, shining, in accomplishment and so inspired. I see you too, alight with your desire, inspired.

Skiing with Jax




I am a single Mom to two amazing boys. One neurotypical, one Autistic. As I write that I wonder what that means to you and how that shapes how you perceive us, even more interestingly yourself.

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