Cheerleading Woes

So, I’m faced with a dilemma and I’m looking for honest opinions to help me process my decision.

Sienna has dreamed of being a cheerleader for years.  Because of her obvious size difference and physical limitations from being a Primordial Dwarf, I’ve always been hesitant.  The last thing I want to see is her being the “flyer” of the team.  Which, I’m sure she would inevitably be.  (I admit, that’d be awesome to see if I were an on-looker.)  I know there are other dwarfs who are cheerleaders, but the ones I know have had gymnastics training and Sienna has not.  In addition, those dwarfs do not have a learning disability that I know of.

As she’s gotten older, the delay in her cognitive and emotional development is becoming more apparent.  So, I also wasn’t quite sure if she was mature enough to handle cheering with girls her own age.

However, there are times that she grasps such deep concepts that I challenge any adult to be able to master.

Many things with her are a mystery.

So, here’s the situation.

Sienna came home from school a few weeks ago with a flyer for a Special-Needs Cheerleading class.  She enthusiastically handed me the flier while exclaiming, “It’s cheap, too!”  I couldn’t help but chuckle as she has learned that Mom is quite frugal.

She was right.  It was cost-sensitive (as opposed to many cheerleading programs) and the times the class meets fit well within our schedule.  So, I e-mailed the director for a bit more information.

I felt confident about the director and the program and was willing to give it a shot.

I took Sienna to the first class.  She was so ecstatic.  She was a bit nervous, but went right in.

The cheer helpers and director were fabulous.  It seemed like a wonderful establishment…but I was still hesitant.

On the way home, Sienna said, “I can’t believe I’m an actual cheerleader!”

You’re probably asking, “What’s the dilemma?”

I’m known for shooting for challenges…For not settling for easy…For not allowing “handicaps” to be excuses…For pushing people (including my kids) to be nothing than their absolute best.

So, by allowing Sienna to be in a modified cheerleading class, am I saying to Sienna that she’s not capable of being in a non-modified cheerleading class when we haven’t even tried a non-modified class?

Looking at safety and actual physical capabilities, I know Sienna would be best in the modified class, but does that feed her spirit?

If she goes into the non-modified class and can’t keep up with the other girls, is she going to get even more frustrated?

Being pretty unfamiliar with cheerleading, I have to guess on what to expect.  So far I’m leaning towards checking into enrolling her into a younger aged class that might closely match her physical abilities, but will challenge her to keep up with those who are more advanced than she is.  However, putting her around younger girls isn’t going to inspire her to mature.

Now do you see why I’m stuck?  Do I put her in the modified class and allow her to help the others and be a leader in the class; do I put her in a younger aged class to test it out; or do I put her in something else altogether? (I’ve always tried to get her to opt for the dance team rather than cheerleading, but she doesn’t seem too excited about that alternative.)


8 thoughts on “Cheerleading Woes

  1. I have no kids or experience with any of this personally, just fyi. But maybe have her do the modified class for now, see how she does, and if she does well put her in a non-modified class at a later date? She’s new to cheerleading anyway, so this might be a great intro for her for now to see how well she can do, especially if she’s excited about it as is.

    • That’s a great option! Thank you, Amanda! Some times we can get so sensitive about our kids that we tend to get in our own way. Hee hee So, I knew our smart friends would have some options. 🙂

  2. i vote for modified class, as long as it is keeping her happy! cheer is very competitive and is very demanding, even on the pee-wee’s. i cheered for 2 yrs and then did dance team for 2 years, however i did dance classes for 7yrs, along with syncronized swimming, gymnastics, softball,& soccer. i would sit in on a cheer class(non-competitve) and then rethink after you see their expectations and level of experience. i think she would make an awesome cheerleader and even mascot…she is so full of spirit!

  3. Have you ever heard of Loretta Claiborne? She’s a person with mental retardation who lives in my area. She will tell you Special Olympics changed her life. Disney made a movie about her life. She has accomplished so much in life because she started with Special Olympics. I say let her start with the special needs but let her soar to where her spirit takes her! I can’t wait to see her in her cheerleading uniform!

  4. Well I can tell you cheer is very demanding. Some gyms aren’t as demanding as others but Kendall is 8 yrs old and gets very frustrated At times and there are times when she has been gotten onto regarding a skill she doesn’t have quite right…that’s for an 8 yr old! Can only imagine what it’s like in an older group level. I would let her try the modified class….let her see if this is something she’s really into, build her confidence. Then if she chooses to move forward then next year have her try a non modified and see how that goes. If you can put her into a gymnastics class once a week to help with the basics of cartwheels, back bends, walkovers and flexibility. She is quite a girl and I know would take on anything and any challenge! Just like her momma!

  5. I agree with the other very helpful comments. If she’s happy, & feels safe & comfortable, let her give it a try:).

  6. Hi,
    I think let her try the modified first. The program should be developed by folks who would have a better understanding of an physical limits Sienna might have. Also, she will gain confidence to attempt other things if she is allowed to branch out into cheer leading. I know it will be a difficult decision, I am scared of physical injury to my daughters in their own extra curricular activities. (Softball for one, archery for the other! Sure, no possibility for injury with flying balls and arrows.Arg!) At least with the modified program, the branch she inches out on will have a safety net underneath.

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