Thursday, May 23, 2013

Autism and Honesty

I was going to work on laundry tonight, but I'm choosing to feel sorry for myself instead.

My 6 year old was diagnosed at age 3 with high functioning Autism, and later, ADHD.  I was at first, so sad, but now, I am, as a rule, just coping with it and dealing with it, working with him, all that stuff.  But there are times when it is tough: really, really tough.

Today, Solomon graduated from Kindergarten in a regular education classroom at a Catholic school, and didn't stand out at the song they sang or receiving his certificate.  So, all in all, a good morning, I worry a bit about first grade....but cross that bridge...

We make him play T-ball.  Because he would never play a sport if no one forced him to.  Because he doesn't have friends and needs to learn to socialize.  Because summers need to have structure too. Because we don't want his school friends to forget him while they play with their non-autistic friends.  Because he can't crawl into a hole and be alone.  Because we suggested soccer, but he chose T-ball.  Because Angry Birds is not a sport.  Because you have to have self control and team skills.  Because he has to survive the next 9 years in PE.  Because sometimes your parents make you do stuff when you're 6.  and Autistic.  and need to be part of something.

Anyways, tonight, Solomon played his first official game of T-ball.  Let me start by saying that hand eye coordination sports were never my thing, and my husband played a little in gradeschool, but isn't real athletic now.  So, to be fair, genetics are not in this kid's favor.  But, let's also be clear that I don't expect my kid to catch balls, throw far, knock it out of the know, he doesn't have to be good at T-ball.  But this is his second year, I would like to see him:  hitting the ball off the tee successfully, paying attention and trying to get balls if they come towards him, not clowning around, and grabbing grounders.  THAT would be what I would expect from a not-too-athletic 6 year old playing T-ball for the second year in a row.  The reality is that myself or his father have to stand directly behind him on the field and give him almost constant reminders to 'get in the ready position', 'get your eye on the ball', 'get off the ground', 'stand up', and 'pay attention'.  Now, I know that LOTS of kids don't pay attention sometimes, but even with this, he is not paying attention the whole time.  Batting is almost a decline from last year.  Running bases looked great every night but tonight, he sensed that we weren't right behind him, I guess, and thought he'd take advantage of the opportunity to screw around.  And you can bet I was unable to relax while he was in the dugout when I saw his hands around a teammate's neck because they were 'tagging him' aka asking him to scoot down so they could all sit down.  

Then, many of his teammates, are relatively good for 6 year olds.  They are actually making clean plays with a lot less of the ball chasing than I have ever seen in T-ball.  So heightened contrast- and we're that much more aware.  

His coach, teammates, and their parents are really understanding, and no one even cares that we have to stay right with him in the field or that he constantly screws up, but it stinks anyways.  I am doubly insecure nonetheless.  

When the game is over, I leave in a separate car for a brief stop at a graduation party.  While there, I spend 10 of the 16 minutes lamenting this frustrating experience.  I come home to kids mostly in bed, and watch a few shows on the computer to unsuccessfully un-depress me.  Then I think about it, cry about it, (pray about it?  Should do that more.) and mull it all over.  

I remember something that puts me over the edge.  Tonight, as I stood behind him in a position where gratefully, the ball didn't come, nagging him incessantly, his teammates made a beautifully clean play and got a player out at first.  (Which means nothing in terms of the other player- they never send them to the dugout in T-ball.)  Still, I was impressed with this play and cheered loudly after they did it.  Solomon turns to me and says, "Did I do it?  Did I do good?"  I was caught off guard and said something like, "I was cheering because they got the ball at 1st, but you were ready..."

Wow.  He exhibited his first interest in the game that we are forcing him to play.  And it was for cheers.  He really wants that kind of cheering for him, and in all my embarrassment and nonstop hounding, I never got a chance to give it to him, or didn't make a chance.  Not once on that field.

Now I cry some more.  

It is so hard.

For ALL of us.


  1. Oh Emily, my heart is breaking for you after reading this post. I have no personal experience with autism, save some older children who participate in the recreation programs I offer through work. I can't imagine the daily up's and down's of living with it everyday.

    But what struck me most about your story is that I too sometimes neglect to cheer instead of nag and my almost 7 year old isn't autistic. I think it's a common enough parenting thing - to get wrapped up in what needs to be done/what should be done that we forget to stop and enjoy the moments for whatever they are.

    So yeah, we're not perfect mothers, but we don't deserve to beat ourselves up about it either. I don't know you but I see the love in your words and the faith behind them. So I know I'm right when I say that you're an awesome mother!!!

    1. Thank you. I was really sad that night, but it is usually okay. . . I think it just gets rough sometimes. The world's tiniest violin is telling me that there are worse things than a son who doesn't really get into T-ball. I actually feel silly re-reading this because I WAS that upset the other night, but I really am not really bummed by it now. I think a lot of little things can just line up in the wrong way to just break you down at times.