Autism Dad: Soccer & Separation Anxiety

On the way up to the game, Ryan complained about homework (“My brain’s only so big”) and shared his yearning for summer vacation: “Just want to relax by the pool.” I had no sympathy.

“Dude, you’re in kindergarten.”

Conversation turned to the soccer game. “I’m embarrassed,” he confided. Took me a few seconds to interpret that one. “Oh you’re nervous, right?” I tried to reassure him, but, being a kid once, I knew my words could do little to soothe his anxiety. “Don’t be, the other kids will like you, and so will the coach. Everyone likes you.”

“It’s not that, Dad.”
“What is it then?”
“I want to do well.”

Before the game started, I noticed that Ryan seemed apart from the other kids. During the game was a different story. He was in his element, intensely focused and always at the center of the action. He sees the big picture, knows his role and how to execute it. Nice to see. Teresa was also singing Ryan’s praises. “He’s good at everything he does.” Then she paused. “But he’s scared of trying new things.” I knew what she meant and I agree, but I put a different spin on it. He’s a specialist, not a generalist. 🙂

At the game, I snapped more than a few pics. (With smart phones, I don’t know that “snap” is quite accurate) It wasn’t easy, because I had to watch Ben, who was obsessively attached to a kid on the team. While the game was going on, he would run on the field in pursuit of his friend, oblivious to the players’ stares of utter disbelief. My job was to push Ben back and, when he broke free from my grasp, to run on the field to retrieve him and wave apologetically to the coaches. He tried this stunt more than 20 times; after a while it became a game. He would try to mow me over like a running back, and I would tackle him, pin him to the ground, and tickle him profusely, to which he responded with a stream of the most delightful giggles.

After the game, we parted ways. Won’t see my angels for a couple weeks. I’d like to believe that the memories I am sharing with you, and the photos capturing them, will make my separation anxiety more bearable. I will consult them as needed.

Um like every day.

This entry was posted in March 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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