Well, it finally happened with the introduction of 11 year old football fanatic pushing our yard has become a place where football happens no less than twice a week. This sweet young man who I have known since he was 5 knew that Bird was 1) very interested in motion and 2) likely capable of playing ball once taught!
This all came about roughly 2 months ago and has become as steady a practice as any of the sports my children has signed up for and we have paid to do!
How does this relate to autism? Well football = net (natural environment teaching) only the therapists are roughly one year older or the same age as this child with autism.
He gets to learn words that are very specific to his age group that are not typically used in soccer or track. He has been taught a great deal about a game that involves being part of a team which is a huge skill. He gets to lose, get knocked down and occasionally get cheated on (this happens I think regardless of age) all under the guise of having FUN, meeting new kids, playing with his brother and sister (the only girl sadly) and my favorite part….not being in the house!
I totally recommend folk by sports equipment for their kid (though we don’t even own a football…he is getting it for xmas but 2 other kids always bring them) and find a kid or two for your child to hang out with so that they can continue to evolve in the most incredibly natural way possible (though these days maybe slightly less natural).
The sweet boy mentioned above is a kid I recruited for Bird’s summer camp 5 years ago and while he did start out as a good friend to my older son Eagle he has turned into a great friend to both my boys. I also get the benefit of exposure to loads of other boys the same age in my yard teaching Bird the good and bad stuff that will help him better understand how to interact with peers so all and all pretty freakin fabulous!
Last, while I know Les would love Bird to actually be on a football team (something I prefer he not do!) I think it is so great to have a 4th sport that he rocks at for when he is older and has down time with friends and better yet can pick what he wants to do with that down time. I am anti-football after years of being in the fire dept and seeing the injuries.
Cheers to All!
Update: forward 2.5 years and the kids 5-12 kids are still happily trampling the grass and they have all really mastered all positions which rocks. All of the kids understand (don’t always follow) the rules and frequently argue that rules which is such an important part of learning how to move on and compromise (this skill is lost on so many who don’t really interact with anything that does not produce an unnatural light and isn’t plugged into a wall). My sweet husband KAM built me a gazebo so I can play spectator (never ref) and watch the kids cheering both teams as my kids are never all on the same team and occasionally I am joined by another players mom or dad to watch and chat!
I can’t impress upon you all enough that 10 or even 7 years ago this might have been what I wanted but definitely not what I had thought would be our future. Sincere props for Birdman (my darling boy) for tolerating the frequent and occasional intense feedback by other players with the desire to join in the game (props to me as well as I make sure they respect him but it’s so hard to hear your child error and not want to bubble or protect him) and huge respect for Herd/Eagle and Peep for knowing he will error and being okay with not heavily involving themselves unless needed and equally big love to the kids who get a free team sport in our yard and come frequently to enjoy movement, company and the joy of the game especially our regulars who call and knock on our door almost 6 days a week (though Bird has therapy/homework/karate/ccd/scouts and more so can only really play 4 times a week so they play without any of my kids sometimes) so in order of frequency love goes out to: Wilson, Andrew, Josh, Mason, Sebastian, Alison, Luke W, Emma (under duress) and now Adam we get cameos from other kids but these are the Cascade Lane Team regulars and great kids all of them.