It was a few weekends back that we traveled up to Mt. Shasta to take Braden, our son who has autism, out into the snow. Me and Anne aren’t big fans of the snow, but Braden loves to get out whenever regardless of the weather. A hurricane could be swirling around and he would still want to go out and explore! Of course, in California we don’t have to worry about hurricanes, thankfully.
We go up to Mt. Shasta yearly, sometimes biannually. A small non-profit organization called Shasta Disabled Sports invites people with disabilities and their families to come up and enjoy winter events like snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowboarding. In the summer they organize rafting trips, camping, and more. The people who volunteer to help out are always tremendously welcoming and accepting.
The picture above was taken on our most recent trip to Mt. Shasta. In the foreground is Becky, a volunteer who guided us while we all went snowshoeing. Braden enjoyed his first venture with snowshoes and was usually leading the pack. He had no problem adjusting to the oversized clunky tennis rackets on his feet. You can tell in this picture that he’s ready to get going. Every now and then he would go off course and we’d have to get him on the correct route, but he did great.
I can’t say enough about all the people involved with Shasta Disabled Sports. Becky and the other volunteers are always amazing! Aaron and Anna and all the others have endeared themselves to our family. Truthfully, if they didn’t hold these events and invite us up there we probably would not have gone skiing or snowshoeing or rafting. Our family is so glad there’s an organization like Shasta Disabled Sports in our area!
Braden enjoyed the different activities up at Mt. Shasta. He usually doesn’t ‘stim’ much, aka making the special kid sounds. But when he’s really having a good time he will stim. While we were up at the snow this day he was stimming like crazy, especially while he was cross country skiing. He sure loved snowshoeing, but let’s face it – that’s just walking in the snow. But when you’re on skis you’re slipping and sliding and doing something totally different. And so the boy stimmed like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t get him to stop making noise though I tried. “Braden, I want to hear words not noises,” I said. It made no difference so I let it go and let him have his fun.
We were at Mt. Shasta for 3 or 4 hours. Braden had the opportunity to snowshoe, ski, and get pulled in a little covered sled behind someone (Thanks Anna!). From a parent’s perspective it was great, but it was also greatly exhausting. I was dead tired by the time we left. Every time Braden needed something me and Mom had to take care of him (After all, he’s our kid!). He needed his boots off and his snowshoes on. He needed his jacket off. He needed his snowshoes off and boots back on. He needed to pee. He needed to eat lunch. He needed to get cleaned up. He needed his boots off and his ski boots on. He needed his skis on. He needed his jacket back on. Understand? Whew – I was pooped. And, of course, we needed to do a lot of these things for ourselves as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that it takes a lot of effort and energy to take care of a child with autism, and even moreso when it’s cold and wet outside. It was worth it and Braden had a great time. No, he couldn’t tell us he had a great time but we know he did.
We own very little snow gear and don’t know jack about snowshoeing or skiing. The volunteers for Shasta Disabled Sports make a big difference for us. They open up the outdoors and make it accessible for families like ours and we are soooooo thankful to them, their donors, and the volunteers who take time out of their lives to come help families dealing with disabilities. Did I mention that it costs our family absolutely nothing? That’s right, it’s FREE. If you have an organization like this in your area you should check it out. As needed, they also provide us with snow gear to make sure we stay warm and cozy.
So, although we’re not big fans of the snow we are big fans of Shasta Disabled Sports! And, apparently, our son is a big fan of the snow. We wouldn’t have known that if it weren’t for organizations like this.
We got to keep getting this kid out and exposing him to new things! It’s good for him!