I don’t often feel like have two amazing boys with Autism means that I am missing out on many parenting experiences. However, there has been this one place in my heart that hurts deeply. When I see the pictures of my friends with children that have donned a hat and uniform. Parents that witness that first connection of bat and ball. The quintessential American sport of baseball. Sitting on the bleachers in the warm spring sun, cheering despite missed hits and jumping like a crazy person when they get their hit. I had written that all off, that it wasn’t in the cards for my boys.
I am so lucky to be proved wrong! We are blessed to have our own Challengers Baseball League in our backyard. A BIG strong league of so many children of different abilities. District 31 has been around for more that 20 years and has helped so many kids feel the grass and dirt and know the joy of making that out!
Yesterday was opening day. While it was a little on the chaotic side what with wheelchairs and stimming and family members wanting to get that perfect picture, I was impressed at the amazing support being poured out for these kids. There were buddies everywhere! Typical kids and teens and adults to help everyone work on their skills and play the game. I was stunned when I was shooed off the field to go “sit, relax, and watch the game!” That may have been the best treat of it all! I got to observe!!! I got to actually sit and watch Ben have the experience! There was someone else there to do hand over hand guidance. There were plenty of people to redirect him when the perfect shine of the sun caught his attention. And there here hundreds of pair of eyes watching and cheering him on as he stepped up to the plate for the very first time!
The ball and bat may have been plastic. But when he connected that bat to the ball on the stand with minimal assistance, you could see a connection happening within him. He was happy. He was proud. He was doing something that millions of other children, typical or not, have been doing since the invention of the game. The pure joy on his face when he was told to run.. I wish I could just bottle it! I was even more amazed when he got to first base and actually STOPPED!
On his second round of the bases he got waved home. My sweet boy, who couldn’t tell you how to play baseball, who can barely catch and throw could understand the importance of what he was about to do. He was going to run home. He was going to score for his team. His excitement was so huge he couldn’t keep his feet on the ground! He practically flew home.
It is not often that I get too see Ben excited to this level. Joy and happiness erupting from every inch of him. I have not been able to wipe away the feeling of thanksgiving and pride. My boy… the baseball player!