This picture was actually snapped a few days ago, but still makes me laugh. I guess when you shovel snow you get hungry.
The other night, my autism support group met at a Mexican restaurant. Over tortilla chips and sizzling fajitas, we shared the joys and challenges of raising our spectrum kiddos. At one point in the evening, a mom had us in stitches as she discussed her son's antics on the soccer field. Soon, other moms chimed in with their own tragic/comic (depending on the story) experiences with their specturm children and sports.
Finally, I cut into the conversation and asked, "Has anyone here ever found success with their spectrum children and a/any sport?"
Not one single hand was raised.
Mine certainly wasn't.
I've blogged about it before. Sports and my Aspie son just don't mesh. I've made peace with that fact and searched instead for other non-physical activities that could provide social opportunites and allow him to develop special skills. He's attempted a parade of activities, anything from the Boy Scouts to science classes. He's greeted each new opportunity with anything from mild anxiety to kicking and screaming defiance. Somewhere along the way, I gave up. I couldn't do it anymore.
We/I took some months to regroup. Weeks and days where we/he just mastered going to school, doing homework, and functioning with the family. But in the back of my mind, I knew the time would come where we'd attempt an activity again. I prayed we'd find a fit.
Over Christmas break, my son mentioned art classes. I practically jumped out of my seat with delight. He wanted to do an activity! Yipee! Yipee! I couldn't run fast enough to the computer to search local art classes and offerings. I quickly signed him up for a beginner art class at a local studio.
He seemed jazzed about the classes until minutes before we walked out the door. Then that old familiar anxiety reared its head.
He wasn't going.
He made that VERY clear to me.
This time I took a different stance. We'd take baby steps, I assured him. Let's just look at the studio. That's it. No more. Promise!
Shock beyond shock, he agreed.
Within minutes, we landed at the art studio. It was a small room nestled in the confines of a historic, brick building. Multicolored children's artworks lined the walls and seemed to be displayed in every nook and cranny. Boxes of crayons, pencils, and paint sets took up residence on bookshelves and tables. My son scanned the environment and immediately softened. He seemed at peace.
He fell into the group and listened to Jenny, his art teacher's, discourse on Frank Lloyd Wright. From my position in the room, I couldn't see my son, but I could hear his voice. As Jenny talked, he chimed in with fact upon fact about Frank Lloyd Wright's work (things he's read in books). I know it sounds annoying, but actually his words added to the discussion and were greeted by the teacher with care and appreciation.
Jenny gave each child a paper replica of a Frank Lloyd Wright creation to color. My son received a picture of the stained glass window featured in the Coonley playhouse. He worked dilligently and gleefully coloring in every single shaped window pane. He varied the colors but focused on a mixture of neons and bright primary colors. His final product looked bright, cheerful, hopeful even.
I stared at his picture and thought, this is how I feel too.