This past Saturday was the final game in my son's baseball league for the fall season, and as is true at the end of every season, fall or spring, we had a party. It was, as it always is, a blast! The Rotary Club made hamburgers and hotdogs. Games, ranging from "Pin The Nose On The Snowman" to bowling (using beachballs and light plastic pins about twice the size of regulation bowling pins) were arrayed around the hall with music playing in the back ground in case anyone felt like dancing; and a couple of kids did. We even had cake and a visit from Santa! Then, at the end of the party, gifts were given out and each & every child who played even one game this season got a trophy. And they deserved it as well! Everyone had a terrific season and their abilities really blossomed under the direction of the team coaches and team mothers. In fact, you might even call it a miracle.
Oh, I know. Some of you just don't get it. These kids can't really play baseball after all! It's not like everyone doesn't know that special needs kids have neither the physical nor the mental ability to really get sports. Well I got news for you buddy, many of our children get it just fine; and even those who don't get it the way you mean still have a blast trying, and isn't that what it's all about? Forget your typical soccer moms and ball diamond daddies trying to recapture their glory days through their kids bringing professional level abilities to little leagues across our nation. We are just thrilled that our children are doing something all too many of us thought we'd never be able to see them do. All too often these kids get pushed aside by their neurotypical peers because they're :strange, retarded, slow, weird, sub-human, or any of a hundred other terms, each more hurtful than the last. Okay, yes the ones with autism or downs often don't get the social cues that would allow them to interact with their age groups in a more socially acceptable manner; but that doesn't mean they don't realize that they're being pushed away and made fun of. They do, and it hurts. It hurts alot, and it hurts us, their parents, sisters & brothers, aunts & uncles, and grandparents too. But there are teams and leagues like the one my son is in all across American, as well as Canada and parts of Europe as well. And it is here that our children are welcomed with open arms and encouraged to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. Here they are not freaks and weirdos, here they are loved and accepted. Here they are safe to be who and what they are without judgement and to play with others who often are finding the same freedom all too often for the first time. Also here their families find a huge weight lifted from their shoulders as well, for here are other moms & dads & aunts & uncles & so on and so forth, all of whom understand in a way that you, dear reader, no matter how hard you try, will never truly get on both an intellectual and emotional level unless you too are one of our numbers. Here we can talk without needing to explain each and every little bit. Here we can be just who we are as well, and share those little things that others get to share at regular little league games plus such things as which new therapy seems to actually be making a difference and which styling salon actually has someone who can really reach our children. In short, these leagues acts almost like an oasis in a desert of people who just don't get it and never will.
Then there are the various health benefits to the children themselves. As the University of Rochester Medical Center points out on their web page, "Participating in sports can help instill a sense of self-confidence and improve skills in relationship building and working as part of a team." Some of the benefits to the children include:
I hope this helps you understand a bit more of why we do what we do, and our children. Until next time, God bless and thank you for reading.