Adam and I decided after much debate to sign Ben up for baseball this season.
After being pushed out of two preschools, soccer and getting a lot of “parent talks” from the gym day care, we did it with great reservation.
On the one hand, we’ll never know when he’s ready to join society if we don’t keep trying. On the other hand, we don’t want him to feel like he’s a failure all the time, over and over again.
With Jack’s practices I usually show up with all the kids and play at a nearby park while Jack practices. He can handle himself just fine and I can see him at all times. I make sure he knows where I am if he needs me.
With Ben, I can’t leave him with a group of strangers in an unfamiliar setting and expect him to act normally. In fact, even though he is closer to 5 than 4 years of age, an adult still needs to be with him constantly.
He will not follow the group or the instructions from the teachers or coaches.
Adam has been making an incredible effort to get home early from work to take him to his baseball practices. However, he always comes home wondering if it’s worth the effort. Last practice he refused to participate at all.
I usually stay home at those times and watch the other kids.
Today Ben had his second game. The first one we were away for but my father took him to and could not believe his behavior.
You see, at home Ben just seems like a normal kid. Okay, a normal kid who is a bit antisocial, paranoid, touchy, clumsy, and thought provoking. But in a group setting his sensory disorder really presents itself.
I won’t bore you with the details but my father said if they didn’t know Ben and saw him for the first time at his baseball game they would think he was retarded.
Yesterday we took Ben to the game and Adam tried to get him to join the group but he wouldn’t. Eventually I took a turn and was able to get him to go over.
Adam watched the other kids in the park nearby and when the game was over Adam was gleaming at me, saying how well Ben did at the game.
He was so happy at his ‘progress’ that I kept my mouth shut. It was all I could do not to break down in tears when I saw the difference between Ben and the other kids.
While the other kids were able to sit and wait for their turn to bat, I had to sit with him at every moment and basically hold him in my lap to keep him from wandering away while waiting to bat.
While other kids could bat without help, some even without a T, Ben needed the coach to do everything, practically swinging the bat for him.
It was sweet to see him up to bat, though.
Even though I spent a lot of time explaining it to him, he ran after the ball he bat instead of to first base. Eventually he figured it out and was able to run to first base the next time he was up to bat.
While the other kids stood where the coaches told them to, watched the batter and chased the ball, Ben completely ignored the fact that there was a game, even after I explained to him what he should be doing. He had ideas of his own.
During this time he made patterns in the sand, he threw the sand into the grassy area, and he talked to me about life and death and where poop went after you flushed it down.
I know we don’t play baseball together after school and maybe if we did he would be better prepared. But we didn’t do it with Jack either and he adapted just fine.
I’m not even sure how much of it is his sensory disorder. Maybe he’s just got his own ideas about life and one day all this stuff won’t matter at all.
But sadly right now I know that following instructions in a group setting is critical for getting through school, and he seems completely unable to do that in any group setting you put him in.
After a few innings Jack came over to help out.
He ran the bases with Ben and again I felt like welling up, this time with pride as I watched Jack caring for Ben and Ben looking up to Jack.
Ben made me proud too, sharing his precious snacks with Jack and the twins after the game was over.
Overall it was a good game for him, and even seeing the familiar look on the coaches faces, where they go to choose whose turn it is to cover first base and they look right past him, knowing within a practice of two that he is incapable of participating fully, we still lived though another game and I’m hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we’ll hobble through the rest of the season together too.