There we all sat, and I listened to his educational team. I am a rule follower so I sat in the meeting and followed the agenda until the very last item came up, which was labeled as "other". I waited until it was time on the agenda for the floor to open up to the topic of "other" and I explained my concerns about an assignment that was sent home.
While I was discussing my concerns about the assignment, I said to his team, "I know my child is different, I know that he will never have the opportunity to play an organized sport".
Yesterday, I sat on a hard gym bleacher designed for adult bottoms about 2,000 feet away from where that first IEP meeting took place and cheered on Mr. M as he played in one of his final recreational basketball games.
Funny, how often we think we can predict the future.
Now, I would love to tell you that this is a FU to autism and that not only did Mr. M play but he was one of the top players on his team, but this isn't that story.
The truth is that Mr. M was easily one of the least skilled kids on the court. When practicing bounce passes he would duck from the ball, every shot was an airball and forget to concept of defensive gameplay.
I guess some people would stop there.
I surely would have stopped there before I had a child with special needs.
If he can't pass or score a basket it is easy to say he has no worth to the team.
I can see where a coach or a community would feel this way.
However, I feel very fortunate we live in a community where this opportunity isn't stopping here.
Instead, we found a coach who said, "So what we will work with what we got." A coach who stands next to Mr. M and puts his hand out right before the ball comes to stop the momentum just enough so Mr. M doesn't duck. A coach who when Mr. M is confused by the concept of subbing gently reminds him that it is his turn to play, a coach who pulls aside Mr. M to explain once again that when shooting his hand should go under the basketball.
A coach who meets Mr. M where he is at, but also has a high standard for him.
So with his lack of skill and extra time required what does he add to his team?
It's a fair question.
Well, there isn't a louder or more supportive team member than my little dude.
He cheers for anyone who makes a basket.
He doesn't care about score.
He follows directions.
He waits in line for his turn.
He willingly shares the equipment.
He doesn't stop smiling.
He does care about playing time.
So yes, I would say that he add a lot to his team.
As this basketball season wraps up, all I can say is that I am extremely proud of Mr. M and even more grateful for his coaches.
And maybe, just maybe this it is a little FU to autism after all.
xoxo - the chaos manager