Thankfully Ben doesn’t play baseball. He does however, play t-ball and as far as I know, there are no rules against crying in t-ball!
Over the last 6 weeks Ben has been participating in a local t-ball program for children with Autism. Team Heroes has been such a blessing to our family and we are so lucky to have been directed to them.
At the beginning of the program, every aspect of the program was a challenge; warm up exercises, throwing, catching. The only thing Ben really seemed to enjoy was the running! (And usually he was running away from me!) Most days left me feeling frustrated and exhausted as I just wanted Ben to learn something to show some sort of improvement. Week after week the green fields and t-ball bats became synonymous with crying and meltdowns. I became very good at unfolding Ben’s clenched fists and hand over hand throwing wiffle balls and tennis balls. The biggest challenge was the bases. Beautiful white bases in a luscious field of green! What child wouldn’t want to run right up to them and jump on them? My child! There was something about the base being different than the grass that unsettled Ben. He would not step on the bases. Even if he saw all of the other children, coaches, and parents standing on them, he just couldn’t break the spell that the grass had over him. Ben would begrudgingly (slowly) go from base to base with much coaxing from me. (Please read that as: Mom dragging child from base to base.) Ben would stand next to the base. He would stand on either side of the base. He would walk around the base. He would not step ON the base!
Fast forward through multiple weeks of the same frustrating experiences, wondering if I would ever see him pick up these skills. (Warning: here come the tears)
This past weekend when we got to the field, he was so excited to run down the hill and not miss his warm ups. And then he surprised us all! Ben picked up the ball and threw it, multiple times, without assistance! He got it! His aim wasn’t great, but he was trying. I was so surprised! After a water break it was time to go to hitting and running the bases. Ben wouldn’t let me help him bat, so I stepped away, preparing myself to watch him take multiple wild swings.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when the bat and the ball connected! To my amazing disbelief, he dropped the bat and took off… towards first base!!! I thought that I was going to need the smelling salts when he stopped at first base without prompting and I noticed that he not only stopped AT first base but.. ON first base!
Base after base, he ran and stopped. He watched the other children at bat, waiting for when it was time to move. He didn’t need for me to drag him along, in fact he didn’t even want me standing near him.
My Ben had figured it out, after 6 weeks of struggle. He knew what he was supposed to do and did it perfectly. He had learned and didn’t need me anymore and in that moment I was so thankful for my sunglasses, but I think the tear spatters on my shirt gave me away!