January 9, 2011

A Win

For a child with autism, there are few things that come easy. 

My son is a natural at computer and video games, but he needs step-by-step instructions and careful explanation in order to learn most other things. Team sports are some of the hardest for him to learn and understand. He also lacks the natural curiosity and interest in sports that boys his age often possess. 

As parents, the lack of curiosity can be frustrating. We want him to participate in activities that interest him, but he can't tell us what he might be interested in learning. We just have to try different activities to see what sticks, but because new situations are difficult for Will, it's a catch-22 of sorts.

Sometimes, in these new situations and attempts at social interaction, we need a win. And sometimes Will needs a win to feel successful and more willing to try new things in the future.

Yesterday, we got a win. 

Will played in his first basketball game. He spent the first half playing defense, no matter if his team was playing offense or defense. He made goofy faces at the little guy he was guarding. He did a mid-court dance when his teammate made a basket. And when all his teammates were begging to sub in, he emphatically announced, "I don't want to go in." 

The little familiar sadness started creeping up, especially as I watched the other little boys dribble, pass, and shoot so well. I didn't care for Will to be the star of the game, but I did want him to be engaged and happy.

Just then, in the middle of my growing discouragement, the ball rebounded itself right into Will's hands.

He looked up at the basket, dribbled, and heaved the ball upward.

I felt as if the whole gym inhaled collectively, but it was probably just me.

It went in.


Oh how we needed that win.