A Case Study
A story of courage and resilience: The case of Olivia.
It all started with an abandoned skateboard. We noticed it in the corner of the skatepark with not a skater in sight. It was a really nice board - I imagined it was worth a lot of money and the owner would be missing it, so we did the responsible thing and handed it in to our local police station, giving it no further thought. The owner never came. A few weeks later, we received a phone call from the police - would we like the skateboard? I wasn’t sure at first - I mean, what would we do with it?! We have an uncoordinated daughter with special needs and a son who would rather hang out with his friends than set foot on a skateboard. But then I had a ‘brilliant' idea ... the skateboard could be useful for moving our heavy pot plants on - it would save our backs - perfect! We took the skateboard home and stuffed it in the shed.
Our inquisitive daughter, Olivia, came across the skateboard. She asked what it was and what people do with them. I explained that kids use them at skateparks and do tricks and things on them (very thorough explanation!) … Olivia’s eyes lit up. Before long, she was sitting on the skateboard, riding it back and forth on our driveway, at times, scaring me with her apparent lack of fear. You see, Olivia has a few difficulties she deals with on a daily basis … there’s Autism, anxiety, a sensory disorder and an intellectual disability - the world is an incredibly overwhelming place for her. Going to the shops or accompanying us on everyday family outings are hugely stressful events for Olivia - throughout most of her life, the happiest (and least threatening) place
for our daughter, has been in her bedroom, hiding under her duvet cover in darkness, listening to music on her iPad - it’s how she feels safe and protected. But this skateboard, well, it brought out a whole new person.
I soon discovered our bumpy, radically sloped driveway was not the ideal place to play on a skateboard, so I took her to the local skatepark. In all honesty, I thought it would be too much for there - all the skaters, the noise, the interactions … I was sure Olivia would only last a few minutes before we would be retreating back home to her bedroom. Two hours later, as the rain began to fall, I quietly suggested it was time to pack up the board and go home. Olivia was hooked! Since that day, not an afternoon passes where Olivia doesn’t ask (and ask, and ask, and ask) for me to take her to the skatepark. She loves it. I love it too. And do you know why? It’s what skateboarding has done for my socially awkward, spatially challenged, anxiety-filled daughter - it brings her alive.
To see Olivia at the skatepark, with her peers, frequently brings tears to my eyes. She fits in. Skateboarding gives a rare, but precious, sense of normalcy. Watching Olivia participating in a fairly difficult sport (and one that requires a lot of skill), absolutely boggles my mind. Through skateboarding, Olivia continues to learn resilience and commitment (she certainly has the bruises to prove it!), and it has been wonderful for her self-esteem. When she learns a new trick, she beams - she tells me how proud she feels of herself. I am proud too. To see Olivia do so well with an activity despite her challenges is one of the best things I could ever hope for.
Olivia has just started attending OnBoard Skate School and she loves it (actually, I love it too … no longer do I need to fumble with all the things Olivia wants to learn … ollies, kickflips, noseslides, pop shuvits (??!) … there really is a limit to what I can teach)!
Thanks, Steve - I’m so glad we have come across your programme - Olivia is counting the hours until next Wednesday!