Baseball, Autism, and Optimism
Baseball season is in the air. My beloved and hapless San Diego Padres have begun Spring Training in Arizona. Baseball seems to be a metaphor for spring and new beginnings, and Spring Training is a time when anything seems possible. Will the 2012 Padres end up in the World Series? Okay, maybe not everything is possible!
But this month I have seen what is possible with Ben. First it was his success using the touchscreen technology in his classroom. After over 12 months of futile efforts, suddenly a light when on. Some of my readers have said that 8 is a good age, where kids with autism start to make some real strides.
This takes us back to the baseball theme. You see, Ben was a two-year-old pitching protege. But by the time he was 3, he started showing severe and rapid regression in speech and increasingly preferred his own orbit. Seemingly overnight, Ben lost his interest in throwing the ball to his dad.
It’s been that way for the past 5 years. I play catch with Ryan all the time, but Ben still doesn’t grasp the concept. I hand him the ball: “Toss it to Daddy.” He looks at it and discards the ball like a piece of trash.
This past weekend was beautiful. Everywhere you looked there were signs of the advancement of spring. I went to the park with the boys, where I met another dad who was throwing his son grounders. Ryan and Ben both bonded with this boy and fielded grounders for the next hour. Did Ben rediscover his pitching prowess? No, but he tossed the ball as best he could, and he was beaming the whole time. And so was I! Seriously, I wanted to hug this man! Not a bromance, but deep, deep gratitude. He showed me that anything is possible.
Yes, spring is on its way. Baseball is in the air. And with it, there is hope.
Play Baseball, Part I
Play Baseball, Part II