GOOD NEWS FROM THE FUTURE: Blog Addition

I am actually forcing myself to write this blog posting because of the emotion it is going to stir in me. I doubt I will get through it without tears. Now, before you stop reading, I should tell you that they are tears of happiness.

A couple of days ago, Mike started Special Olympics bowling. I am fortunate that Mike attends an amazing school with teachers that are beyond dedicated. In short, they are not just teachers – they are family. While none of them have disabled children of their own, they go beyond the scope of the classroom. They volunteer to coach their student’s Special Olympics teams. Their dedication ensures that the students can participate. They provide an added layer of comfort for their students and parents. We do not have to worry about a ‘learning curve’ with a new coach.

As most of you know, Mike ate chicken nuggets for the first time in 14 years at this bowling practice. While I am shocked and thrilled at this progress, it was not the highlight of the day for me. That came from watching my son and quietly acknowledging the progress he has made.

As I sat back and observed him, I reflected on the years of pain I had while watching Mike participate in activities. He required constant prompting and always seeming disconnected from the group. Since he would wander away and his behavior was unpredictable, I always had to hover over him. It was work and, to be honest, not much fun for me. For the love of my son, I pressed on – and on this day, I reaped the benefits of my hard work.

As I watched him, I realized that he has changed. He is not disconnected or isolated anymore – he fits in with his peer group. To be honest, he is actually quite popular. His friends get him and play along. They laugh when he is goofy – they script with him – and they tell him to “SHUT UP” when he is annoying. It is all so very normal – and yet so very magical. (Here come my tears)

When Mike and I arrived at the bowling alley, he bolted through the door and headed straight to his FRIENDS. We have never been to this bowling alley, so I quickly followed him, in case he decided to disrupt other bowlers. My anxiety subsided as I saw him approach his friends. He smiled when he saw them. He greeted them by name. When a classmate avoided his greeting, he bent down to her eyelevel and forced a “hello Mike” from her.

He took off his shoes, put on socks and bowling shoes, only needing my assistance to tie the laces. He grabbed a few balls and placed them in the rack. He waited his turn and watched his teacher enter his name on the scoreboard. He moved around the group of approximately 20 kids and interacted with them. When the bowling started, he followed the game and knew what to do. He cheered and high-fived his friends when they bowled a strike. He looked for praise from others when he bowled a spare. At one point, he ordered food from the snack bar – calling me over to pay, of course.

Directly behind where the kids were bowling, was a sport’s bar area. I sat in there with Mike while he ate and remained there for the bulk of the practice. I was able to watch him, in case he needed me. I was able to sit, relax, and enjoy my son’s bowling practice.

The wonderful part – he did not need me!

 

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5 thoughts on “GOOD NEWS FROM THE FUTURE: Blog Addition

  1. Jennifer says:

    This is so very awesome! This situation goes up there with hearing your child speak for the first time, or walk for the first time! I am so very glad to hear this amazing accomplishment! You had a lot to do with that and you should be very proud! It sounds like he goes to a wonderful school where the teachers also work very hard to help Mike continue to grow. Congratulations to both you and Mike! Congrats to you for all your hard work! Congrats to Mike for learning to step out of his comfort zone and make wonderful friends! What great strides happening here!

  2. Amy Bors says:

    Hi my on the verge of turning 18 y/o son also participates and LOVES special Olympics he bowls ,he plays basketball and has gone to state for shot put and gotten a gold medal. Special Olympics opened a whole new world for him. My Noah will be 18 on the 21st. Your reflections spoke to my heart.

  3. Made me cry too, which is crazy ’cause usually I giggle while I read or watch your posts. It is so crazy how this community of autism parents and caregivers totally “get” how huge it is to eat a new food or interact with peers. I love your new catch phrase “good news from the future.” I don’t know if you like reading other blogs or not but I wrote one recently that was meant to let some of the younger moms come to understand that it is going to be okay. Just in case you’re on the edge of your seat now: http://quirks-and-chaos.blogspot.com/2014/07/its-not-such-bad-life.html

  4. Lisa Turner says:

    Oh my gosh I too was on the verge of tears – I know your ‘pain’ the ‘work’ that we as parents do without question but with fear and hope all wrapped into one. To see our child interact positively with other kids and watch those kids ‘get’ them and simply treat them as an equal says so much…if only the rest of the world was the same. As I often say to others “our kids are Different Not Less”…I am inspired by your love, support, encouragment and advocacy for your awesome son, you (and many other mum’s) give me hope, give me faith in our communities, my son and myself. Thank you so so much xLT

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