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Swoosh!

January 29, 2012

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He had just turned four. We signed him up for T-ball that summer. My husband had been the pitcher on his high school baseball team. This was to be the beginning of a passing of the torch. Troy would be great. Really, how could he not be? We had practiced in the backyard all spring. He was ready.

On the first day of T-ball, we arrived at the field. There were about six teams there, playing three games. All the teams were made up of children ages 3-5. This was going to be great. Maybe he would finally make some friends.

Our game started.

He froze.

We urged him gently out onto the field with the other kids. He stood there motionless. Like a damned statue. The coach couldn’t seem to get him to respond at all. The ball would just roll by him. There he stood. He had completely shut down. My husband made his way out onto the field.

My husband played T-ball that summer. He would hold my son’s gloved hand and help him pick the ball up. We tried to watch him from the bench each time. Each time he would shut down. We had no idea why. Each time we watched, I felt a flood of emotions. Something is not right here. This isn’t like the other kids on the field.

But I didn’t know.

Fast forward. Through the difficult year of preschool, where the teachers, bound by laws that prevented them from using the “A” word, started hinting at a “diagnosable social disability;” through the tortuous summer after the pediatrician translated what they couldn’t tell me; past the diagnosis; past the conversation in the car when I explained to Troy about his Aspergers; past the day when his teacher and principal explained Aspergers to his kindergarten class; past the birth of his baby sister; past the diagnoses of both of his younger sisters with autism; to this weekend:

Troy is now in second grade. He is 7 and a half. He has a great group of friends. He has play dates. He is playing basketball. Not “real” games. It’s more of a clinic run for the younger kids at his school. But he’s playing. He’s never been the most coordinated kid on the block, but then, neither are the other 5-8 year olds in the gym.

He plays. He works hard at it. He even smiles.

And yesterday, he scored. Twice.

He probably won’t make the NBA. He may not even want to play again next year on the team. But today, he is smiling. Such a dramatic change from that scared, silent little boy on the baseball field.

He is engaged in life. He is nothing short of amazing.

It gets better. It gets so much better.

Photo from http://www.sportapex.com/2011/04/history-of-basketball.html

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