I mark the years in tennis balls

November 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm 6 comments

     I remember the first developmental pediatrician we ever saw; she was the one who gave C three diagnoses to add to the zillion that came before: high functioning autism, hyperlexia, and developmental coordination disorder. “Get him into team sports,” she said. “He needs the socialization. Soccer, maybe.” This was after I said I was thinking about karate, which I’d always heard is good for kids with autism.

     We tried both soccer and karate, with varying degrees of success ranging from marginal to disastrous. Soccer was a special needs league. It was like a field of kittens with puppy buddies trying to help the kittens play on a team. It was all sweet and good, but it was useless for learning much of anything. In the team picture, which I look back at with a mix of bitter and sweet, not a single kid was looking at the camera. I took that as a true reflection of the delightful insanity that was that soccer season.

     Karate, however, was a nightmare. Movements and sequences that were way too hard were combined with 25 kids in a loud gym and an instructor so strict and uncommunicative that C had no idea why he ended up in time out halfway through the first session. We made it through exactly three classes before we forfeited the ridiculous amount of money we paid for that semester and never looked back.

     Team sports have now given way to individual ones, and tennis and golf seem to be of interest. Now, in our third fall in one place, C is taking tennis lessons for the third year. He has always had but one goal: to hit a ball over the fence. He couldn’t even come close the first year, and last year wasn’t much better. It wasn’t until tonight, in his second lesson of his third year, that he proudly and solidly sailed a ball right over the fence and into the likely rattlesnake and scorpion infested bushes. 

     I suppose that tennis ball is a metaphor for C’s amazing growth and progress in the last few years. If I were the type of Mom who revels in these things, I’d see all kinds of not so hidden parallels between all these years of effort and the ultimate achievement of such a lofty goal. I’d get teary eyed with the thought of how hard C had to work to get this far. Instead, I gladly ventured into those bushes to retrieve said tennis ball, all the while sneakily wiping non-tears from my eyes.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , .

To all the girls he’s loved before… Just say no

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. therocchronicles  |  November 11, 2009 at 6:19 am

    very cool. Persistence pays off! I have a feeling that the Roc will be an individual sports kinda guy too. He’s taking horseback riding and swimming lessons and loves both. We’ve opted out of soccer, even the special needs group, because I think it would be just too much – too many kids on all the fields, too many parents, too much noise and movement.

    You’re one good mama to head into snake infested bushes!!

  • 2. mama edge  |  November 11, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Teary-eyed here, too! Beautiful post.

  • 3. goodfountain  |  November 11, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I love hearing about C. I forgot about tennis as an individual sport. Must remember that one for later…

    Was C really proud of himself for hitting the ball? I bet he was ecstatic.

  • 4. jesch  |  November 12, 2009 at 6:08 am


  • 5. tiredmama  |  November 12, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    🙂 Love it!
    You have received a bloggy award over at my site — come by and pick it up!

  • 6. Ghkcole  |  November 13, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I live this post. Read it days ago and have been seeking just this chance to tell u how it stuck with me.


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