Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Getting" the Autism Factor with Baseball and Cousins

Yo! Mick here. The cute one with the tail.

Red and I learned the basics of baseball this past week! Wow and Bow-wow! What a wonderful experience! Does life get any better than a game with boys chasing a ball, running around and having fun?
We spent the past weekend at a family reunion in Santa Barbara having a blast with our cousins. These guys had all played baseball before either in school or in a league but Red and I were fairly new. Well, Red may have played a bit in PE. Because kids with autism can get real stressed out with team sports Mum hasn't signed Red up to play league competitions. I can understand why - team sports are loud and confusing. Fun too, to be sure but with everyone yelling in the heat of the moment I was overwhelmed.

Red's lucky to have some cousins who not only know how to play but can offer up some help too. Red got some lessons on how to hold the bat for optimum swinging. His older cousin has a real knack for understanding Reds needs and explaining things so that he gets it.

His older cousin "gets" Red. We've started sorting people by those who "get" (understand Red and the autism factors) and those who don't. Those who don't are further divided into those who could with a bit more effort from those who choose not to get him.

Red's fortunate, his family gets him most of the time and always tries to. Some kids with autism are not nearly as blessed. Having a supportive family and friends is a huge factor in how autism impacts a person.

Watching Red swing his bat and keep trying until he connected was inspiring. More inspiring than that was the boys making up rules that applied to everyone's abilities and their patience with each another. These were not at all formal rules but more like using patience and tolerance. The pitching was pretty rough for everyone.

Red soon made contact with the ball. I chased after it while he ran around the invisible bases. Talk about confusing! Was I supposed to get the ball or chase my boy?

In the brief time I hesitated, the older cousin had the ball and was chasing down Red. I was barking, the younger cousins were shouting out and Red just kept running - up until the point when he was tagged out. Then he just collapsed on the ground. Red likes a big dramatic finish!

Life with autism is what you choose to make of it - having people who care about you and truly "get" you with the autism factors is a blessing. Red is well blessed. He has family, friends, teachers and me who "get" him.

What we all get is a boy who is fun, playful, loving and a joy to hang with.

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