Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Opening Night Jitters

Recently, a friend of mine, whose son is also on the Autistic Spectrum, told me that new research suggests that children with Autism are extremely sensitive. This is contrary to all the research done before which suggests that these kids remain detached and aloof to what is going on around them. According to the latest research, they believe that perhaps this perceived detachment is simply a defence mechanism, which prevents the child with Autism from becoming overwhelmed with the acute intensity of emotions they experience from certain circumstances. For me, I think this research is dead on! From the time he was born, we have always said that Elliot's greatest challenge is that he feels life too intensely. What may make us feel a little nervous, excited, happy or anxious, almost debilitates Elliot and makes life very challenging for him.

And this is why I think the past couple of weeks have been so rough on Elliot. You see, we started a new soccer season, which means a brand new team for Elliot. He has played with many of these kids before, but as we were figuring out from the sidelines last night, half of the kids are new to the team. Also, last year, during the last couple of games of the season with one particular team, there were quite a few aggressive outbursts from the parents of the opposing team. This really shook Elliot up at the time, but unfortunately, as I learnt last night when I was catching the tail end of one of Elliot's rants, he is still feeling anxious about them and was concerned that it could happen again.

As I mentioned yesterday, Mr. Level-Headed and I have been perplexed as to why Elliot has not been sleeping and why ordinary tasks like his school work have suddenly become insurmountable for him; however, yesterday, the light finally dawned and I realised it was the new soccer season. Our day started at 5:45 am when Elliot woke up, and he wasn't just awake, he was wired. As the day progressed, his hyper, over-the-top antics gave way to a very intense anger and then eventually to a very serious case of opening game jitters. By mid afternoon, Elliot was ranting about how he hated soccer and that it was the worst sport ever. I thought this was strange, but I ignored it and instructed Avery to do the same. Then, he finally began to confide in me that he was nervous. He was nervous that the kids would not play their positions. He was nervous that they would not score. He was nervous that he would let the team down, and he was nervous that the ref may not be able to control the parents. All of his worries started pouring out, and I all I could do was assure him that everything would work out for the best.

Then, Mr. Level-Headed came home early with a bunch of pool supplies. Honestly, this man may not realise it, but sometimes he is our knight in shining armour. Elliot was stomping around the house, frustrated and scared, and so Mr. Level-Headed told him to come outside and help him vacuum the pool. Physical labour really seems to bring Elliot out of his funks. When it was all done, in spite of the rain and the chilly temperature outside, Mr. Level-Headed and the boys hopped into the pool. When I looked down at them from the porch, I noticed that Elliot, in between chicken wars, would dive deep beneath the water and slowly swim his way across. There is something about the water cradling his entire body that enables him to reboot, and when they finally made their way back into the house for supper, I noticed that Elliot was relaxed and laughing. He was excited for the game, and he was confident that they would do their best. He was a like a completely different kid!

So, after supper we made our way to the field. It was damp and chilly, but I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world because there on that field, I saw Elliot excel like I have never seen before. He was in his element. He played with confidence, with skill, and with leadership. I couldn't believe this was my boy! He had really stepped up to the challenge, and in the end, his team won 5-4 against a team that went undefeated last year. And even more exciting, Elliot scored THREE of those goals. A hat trick! I was so happy for him, and Avery, who is now an official member of Kingston's U12AA team and no longer a call up like he was last year, was vibrating with excitement. When we returned home, Avery's enthusiasm seemed to intensify as he bounced around the living room reliving moments in the game. Elliot, however, grabbed his nightly bowl of cereal, and then curled up on the chair and immediately fell asleep. His job was done. Everything worked out for the best, and finally, he was at peace.

Mr. Man would not stop for a victory photo.

This guy is always up for a photo op.

I enlisted Elliot's new buddy, Ethan, to help me get a  photo  of Elliot. There is nothing quite a like a healthy dose of peer pressure to keep this boy in line.

Way to go Kingston! As we were commenting along the sidelines last night, you all played a great game, and we were impressed with how well you all played together. I think this just may be our best team ever!

1 comment:

  1. As a father with a son who has Autism, and being a soccer fan, I was happy and enlightended my your story!