Monday, March 14, 2011

A Team Player?

First let me start out saying that I LOVE MY SON. He has some wonderful qualities that I find absolutely intriguing.  I can promise you that life is NOT boring in our house.  If things seem mundane, in a minute or two it will change, without a doubt.

My son has come so far on this journey through ASD Land.  Once he was very much a loner, unhappy most of the time, unable to communicate even the simplest of needs. But all these things have changed.  He now yearns for friends and enjoys playing games and interacting.  He is no longer unhappy!  He is a funny kid, and enjoys life.  His joy often overflows to others around him, as he shares his latest joke, or amuses us with a crazy antic.  He's also able to share his thoughts as he's learned how to express himself, first with PECS and now with words. He is now conversational, with some word retrieval difficulty, but he manages to let us know (probably more than we want to hear!) what is on his mind and his likes and dislikes.

One thing, however, that my boy has not had great success with, is being part of a team. He's good with a few kids, but the complexity of actually functioning as part of a larger group escapes him.  He will typically zone out and not participate, or he will do "his own thing" without consideration for the others participating.  

Jonathan, much to our surprise, made a request to be on a soccer team.  He's not really very sports minded, but he was sure he wanted to play.  I contacted a few Soccer Teams trying to decide what would be the best fit for him.  Ended up registering him for an AYSO team.  Their focus is on fun, good sportsmanship, and everyone playing. Not so much on competition and winning.  This is not a special needs league, but they are aware of Jonathan's "Quirks and Perks" and were very accommodating to include him on a team.   Due to some clerical errors, we started late, so he only had 2 practices before the first game.  

With very little experience in playing, I wasn't sure what my son would do during the first game. My hope was that he would not run the wrong direction and score for the other team.

Amazingly, Jonathan was totally into the game.  He enthusiastically played, congratulated others when they made a good play, he focused on the ball, successfully passing it a few times to another player,  and did his very best for the entire game.  He did not even have a melt down that his team did not win. Even more of a shock was that he's actually pretty good at playing Soccer!  Here are some pictures from the game:

When we were leaving, several boys called him by name and said they were looking forward to seeing him at the next practice.  He ran over to them, gave them a high 5, and came back to me with a smile.  He's part of a team!

We've faced many issues over the past 10 years, and have found ways to conquer or adapt or learn to cope with things that are not "natural' for my son.  I think the "team" thing is on the docket for this year.  Soccer is the tool to learn how to be part of a team.

Life is teamwork.  Being part of a team is a good thing. A very good thing.

You can read more about our AWEtism experience by clicking: 
AWEtism....Life on the BRIGHT SIDE of the Spectrum

1 comment:

  1. My son is 5, and I can't imagine him being able to understand rules to a game or be part of a team. Thanks for the hope that maybe someday he will.
    Your stories are all such a blessing to me. Please keep writing.