Put me in coach

Ashlyn came home Friday with a new bowling shirt. She hates getting her picture taken but she wanted a photo of the front and back and waited while I sent the picture to her Papa.

I talked her into changing out of it for dinner and she even almost hung it up so it would look nice for her Special Olympic’s tournament. On Saturday she posed for a picture with her sister, then with her bowling lane in the background and then again with her third place ribbon (yay!). If you were to spend ten hours looking through the photos threatening to take over our entire hard drive you would notice that the photos of Ashlyn are few and far between. If you were working on recognizing patterns and finding what is the same and different like my kindergarteners are you would notice that, in every smiling picture of Ashlyn she is wearing some type of team shirt. In every almost-turning-away or completely-avoiding-eye-contact photo she is not.

Last week I finally hid her five year-old track and field sweatshirt so that it would not be in her constant rotation of outfits and on Halloween I had to break it to her that the soccer jersey from her first year of Special Olympics would not fit as a costume.

Like many kids with autism, Ashlyn likes her time alone. She needs doses of quiet and calm and a schedule that involves her daily must-do’s on the computer. But she also needs to belong.

People with special needs come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. Some can talk, some can’t, some walk or drive or can’t hear. They may join your conversation or butt in or never say a word. They may sit in a corner or run from one wall to the other or wiggle their hand through your hair without asking.

You may not be sure what they need or what they want or what you should do next. I’m not an expert but I can tell you what I would want you to do for my own daughter, as her mom. I would want you to know that what is going on in her mind is just as important as what is going on in your own. She feels and understands just as much as you do, maybe even more.

I would want you to listen to her in the days when she couldn’t talk and help her run when she was trying very hard to walk.

I would want you to think about your life, the circles of friends you have, the things that you do and maybe find a place for her.

Then hand her a team shirt with her name on it and her favorite number on the back, she will be the most loyal teammate you’ve ever had.

special olympics bowling

 

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  1. says

    I saved this to read because I loved the picture on Facebook. I’m so glad I came back to read it. I love your analogies in this and I love that every person is special and has their own special routines and special interests that make them shine. It’s all about giving someone a chance. Thanks to you and Ashlyn for reminding us all of that!
    Kathy at kissing the frog recently posted..A Mom’s Top 25 Tips for Fighting Depression

  2. says

    I recently participated in a Special Olympics event here in Key West – it was a SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) Invitational and was beyond inspired with the athletes. The local SO doesn’t have athletes with autism – they have them as “abled partners” so its kind of weird, I wish they did include them – talk about inclusion huh? Anyways, some of the other participating counties did have athletes with autism as well as other athletes and the smiles on their faces, the light in their eyes…it was amazing!! I can see that same light in Ashlyn’s eyes in that picture.
    Krystal recently posted..Stop Speaking and Start Listening

  3. says

    What an incredibly sweet photograph this is. Ashlyn looks so incredibly comfortable/happy here. I’m glad that she has found her comfort in wearing her favorite sports teams shirts. And if I ever had the opportunity of meeting your daughter, I hope you know she always has a place at the table with me :)

    XOXO and I’ve missed you sweet girl! It’s so great to be back here today.
    Charlotte recently posted..life imitating art

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