>We attended a minor league baseball game last night, courtesy of our local car dealership. They paid for general admission tickets and a picnic supper before the game. An experience like this with a blind/Aspergers child is fun, but a little different.
Mom: Let’s find a place to sit on the grass and eat our hot dogs.
El Grande: No, I don’t know how! I don’t know how to eat sitting on the ground!
Mom: We’ll help you figure it out. Would you like a Mt. Dew to drink?
Dad: I’ll go get a blanket from the car; you two find a place.
Reading between the lines, or the interpretation.
Mom: Let’s settle down soon.
El Grande: Oh, no! I’ve never done this before! I might spill if I can’t see my food! It’s too crowded and loud to concentrate and learn something new! I hope I don’t have a melt-down.
Mom: Oh, no, I’d better help him stay calm. I hope he doesn’t have a melt-down.
Dad: I’d better go get something to help smooth this situation. I hope he doesn’t have a melt-down.
the next installment:
Mom: Here’s your hot dog.
El Grande: What can I use for a plate?
Mom: I’ll give you the foil wrap to put on your lap.
El Grande: Okay. What did you get me to drink?
Mom: Dew. Do you want me to open it?
El Grande: No. I can do it myself.
Reading between the lines:
Mom: Here’s your hot dog. Oh, I hope this works.
El Grande: What if I drop it? I’ve never done this before without a table.
Mom: Maybe this will reassure him.
El Grande: Okay, this is a little more like normal.
Mom: He’s settling a little. Maybe I can help…
El Grande: I’m settling a little. I can open the can myself now.
The next installment:
Dad: Here’s a blanket. Scoot over.
El Grande: Okay. Dad, do you want chips?
Mom: This is a blanket that it’s okay to spill on.
Dad: Yeah, it’s the one from my trunk.
El Grande: Yeah, this is more comfortable.
Dad: We’re sitting right next to a new convertible model.
El Grande: Cool! Can I have another hot dog?
Dad: I hope everything’s okay and I’m not too late.
El Grande: I fell better now that I’m eating. Eating is normal.
Mom: I know he panics if he spills. I’ll remind him that spilling isn’t a catastrophe.
Dad: He panics if he spills in public.
El Grande: Yum. I wonder if they’ll let me have another hot dog?
Dad: Let’s change the subject. I’ll distract him.
El Grande: Everything’s fine now. Can’t you two stop worrying?
Yes, parenting is different when the child can’t see and has autism. Sometimes his high-level functioning causes us to forget that he still fears certain unknowns, especially those that could end up in “disaster” like spilling in public.
The baseball game ended up being fun. We had general admission seats on a grassy hill, so we stretched out on the blankets to watch the game and the other fans. El Grande knows all the cheers that go with the stadium music, so the younger kids were awed by him and the other grown-ups smiled and joined in. We caught a souvenir ball, one of the many goodies they toss to the crowd. (Last summer I caught a t-shirt.) The team lost (14-4, ouch!), but the post-game fireworks were great. And I must admit, we enjoyed the popcorn and beer, too.
It’s all in a day’s work for parents. When the child is disabled, it raises the bar a bit, but it all works out in the end. Take me out to the ball game!
>Okay, Daisy, how old is your son?? You are making my heart melt. How do you do it and write from such a centered place?? PLease keep writing about this. I need to read it. You are keeping me away from my narcissism. You are making me better…
>El Grande is 14, going into high school in a few weeks. He has made huge strides in emotional control in the past two years.