Team sports, until this year, have been incredibly difficult for Bean. Competition has caused extreme anxiety and any events would very often end in aggression. A little while ago, I wrote about how we have seemingly managed to come through the other side of many of his aggression problems. Hubby and I had contemplated about whether or not we should register him for soccer this season. Last year was a difficult battle for all, and I’m not sure any of us were ready for this year. We opted to register him and just ‘go with the flow’. He has played soccer for an autism league for a few years now, and if nothing else, it’s at least a social event for him. However, he has really taken a turn and I never cease to be amazed at what I see on the soccer field this season.
On the team this year, there is another child that has a number of aggression issues. I’ll call him Steve for ease of the story… this is not this child’s name. Steve has had some difficulties on the field dealing with emotions… both in respect to the volutneers and his team mates, in particular Bean. It started from the first night and hasn’t really let up… until tonight! Last week, Steve and Bean got into a situation that I thought was really going to lead to a fist fight on the field!… keeping in mind Bean is 8 and the rest of the kids are around the same age. That night, Steve got the better of Bean! Bean wasn’t able to control his emotions but that was really the first REAL difficulty that I’ve seen on the field that he hasn’t been able to handle.
We talked to Bean after the game and reminded him that we don’t ‘fight back’ when people say or do things that are wrong. If a bully doesn’t get a reaction, many times, he may stop bullying! We suggested, that because of the supports on the field, the best thing he could do is basically walk away. We also reminded him that he has been where Steve is now and we have to realize that others have all kinds of challenges.
Well, last night, Bean decided he would take it one step further. As he put it, he was going to ‘fight the bullying with friendship‘! What a grown up approach… actually, I don’t know many adults that would take that approach. So, last night, when Steve said to him… ‘You’re face is ugly‘, Bean replied, ‘That’s OK, cause your face looks lovely!‘ Again, Steve repeated it… and Bean again had the same reply. Eventually, Bean’s persistence started to pay off. Not only did Steve almost stop his behaviours, but they almost got along last night by the end of the game. Will they be ‘friends’? I doubt it, but if they can tolerate each other on the field, that is a major plus!
Then, I see one of his other team mates… the only girl on the team… head off the field in tears with Bean trailing right behind her. I missed what happened and hoped that everything was alright. I guess she had gotten a soccer ball in the stomach and it hurt! Bean had this happen last week, from a kick that one of his friends had done, and he was soooo upset! He figured that it was done on purpose and had a really hard time getting past that. It took him a couple of days before he talked to his friend and told him how he felt… and they are again, best buddies!
So, I notice that Bean heads over to where this girl is sitting and I’m told that he explained to her that he understands how she feels. That the same thing happened to him last week and he ‘lost his air’ (a.k.a. had the air knocked out of him) and then went on to explain how he thought that the other person had done it on purpose last week, but it was only an accident… ‘I’m sure that this was an accident too! You’ll be OK, but I know it really hurts!‘ Who says children with autism don’t have empathy??
You see, at the time, I had no idea that any of this was really going on. I found out when the coaches and a couple of volunteers came over to tell me what Bean had been doing and how proud they were of them. He was bound and determined to be a friend to Steve and help his friend feel better when she got hurt. As I stood there, tears started to form in my eyes… I couldn’t have been prouder of Bean at that moment! I know that my boy is growing up and maturing. I hear things like this and know that we are at least doing something right.
In our lives, I don’t use autism as an excuse…. and I don’t allow Bean to do so either! He has the ability to control his behaviours and make appropriate choices. If he makes the wrong choice, there are likely going to be consequences based on his choice. Last night, he made great choices and as I write this, I am grinning ear to ear. That is definitely my proud moment for the week!
What’s happened in your life the last few days that you are proud of?
Until next time…