I feel almost guilty in admitting: I have not watched any of the World Cup. I say it makes me feel sort of guilty because it seems like the entire world stops for this tournament–even the annoying talk radio show my husband listens to every morning comments on it; you can practically hear them shrugging as they debate a sport they probably don’t care an ounce for. But they know they have to, because it’s sports.
In sort of the same way, I feel oddly obligated to like sports and try to help Logan like sports. When I was a kid, sports seemed ubiquitous thanks to my mother, my brother, my cousins and everyone else, it seemed; now that I’m married, they’re still there thanks to my husband. He’s always recalling his favorite childhood memories of playing baseball or football until the sun went down on some grassy neighborhood field.
It’s probably a common blow for parents of kids with autism, that their kid won’t grow up playing sports like they loved. I know I read about it often enough. But I also read about the ones who do love playing sports from time to time. So we enrolled Logan in a mini-sports camp for a week this summer, hoping he’ll be turned on to soccer or T-ball (at least I was hoping for that; I know Jason was hoping Logan would make a few friends, which I told him would be pretty hard for him to do when his normal greeting to meeting a brand-new peer is still something like “Remember when Gavin ate that sandwich?”)
The first two days were rough. He didn’t like waiting his turn to dribble the soccer ball all the way down the field, he didn’t want anyone else to have the green ball, and he clearly struggled to understand the rules for games like Duck, Duck, Gray Duck (that’s Duck, Duck, Goose for any readers not from Minnesota) or Sharks and Minnows, a soccer game. Even Tag was hard for him — he loved being “It” and tagging people, but he’d cry and grow frustrated whenever he wasn’t “It” and that he was now supposed to avoid the “It” person. He spent most of the morning either being lazy, sitting down in the field or pick grass, or being too aggressive, running into other kids or just leaning into them to bump them with his body. He did better as the week progressed, though, so perhaps there is still hope.
Or maybe team sports just won’t be Logan’s cup of tea. By coincidence, he also had two karate classes this week, thanks to a daycare friend’s birthday party that was held at the martial arts gym in town. And it turned out, he loved it.
For one thing, there wasn’t as much down time as there was in sports camp. The whole class followed the instructor’s moves; there was no waiting in line to take a turn. And it was all very concrete–the instructor said kick your leg, and he meant kick your leg. None of this “Run home! Run home!” when what was meant was run along the dirt path to the first base, then the second, and finally back to where you started with the bat. Logan was able to jump and scream, and he didn’t have to worry about being too aggressive because he was simply kicking in front of him, not a person. His favorite part, he said, was getting to yell, “Yes, SIR!”
And martial arts are supposed to be fantastic for kids with autism. Its focus on discipline and respect, and even the repetitiveness of the motions is all helpful to many kids — but especially those with autism or ADHD. Even though I was aware of these things going into the karate class, hearing the instructor talk about the importance of maintaining eye contact with the students made me sure this would be a good fit for Logan. And–bonus–Logan said he wanted to go back!
What I remember most about sports from growing up is the constant driving around to all the practices, games and meets. I remember gulping down an apple after school before basketball practice, which was just before CCD or whatever else we had going on. This week I’ve once again bemoaned the fact that staying committed to Logan’s diet means no easy or quick food.
Or–at least it did. Luckily, my mom found these paleo sandwich wraps at the natural food store, made from coconut meat. They fit with the Body Ecology Diet, and even better, Logan loves them. Doubly even better, they make lunches and meals when we have sports or other activities after work super easy. On the not-so-great side, they cost $10 for seven wraps. But if it means Logan can finally eat sandwiches, and if it gives us at least one quick and easy option, I suppose it’s worth it.
Logan’s new favorite food: ham and (fake) cheese sandwiches!