Sport and boys is a very good way to mix!...but when you KNOW your son ia autistic and therefore he struggles:

  •  with mixing,
  • with conflict,
  • with teasing,
  • with pressure,
  • plus all sorts of sensory issues as well,

you KNOW it is not going to happen naturally.

So we could have taken the short plan and taken the crying child off the pitch, when he never wanted to go back OR talked to him and explained all the other strategies of managing himself in that situation again…

our ADVANTAGE and i don’t mean we used him as one, was Fionn’s younger brother – not many years between them, so able to keep an eye.

Our other “safety” plan was that we INFORMED a group of Fionn’s choice of close friends about aspergers, and how it would /could affect a situation and a few clues for them to recognise when stress was building up.

I know people say children can be cruel, but in our experience most informed children are so kind!

HelenCookstown-20120516-00450

when i was young i was NOT very sporty.

when i was young i had really bad feet co-ordination so mum and dad got an OT to advise them and we got a climbing frame, a trampoline, and a play area paved in the garden where i could mess around with a ball and be able to stay on my feet.

i also got tennis lessons from i was 5 to make me good for moving and able to watch the ball.

i had to get swimming lessons for safety cos i used to think i could swim…so it worked for my safety , my skills and my muscles.

its kind of weird but when i write , my body sort of loosens muscles and drops and i often end up with my head nearly over my page.

so my muscles were getting stronger and these were solo sports and that was just me sort of back then. i didn’t really play with groups.

when we discovered I had Asperger’s it helped cos i knew what was wrong with me . But it got a bit harder. Mum and Dad knew that Aspies didn’t group much, so they used to say to me “what do you want to be when you are older? Do you want to be a loner, or do you want to have friends?” (or something along those lines anyway!). i used it think it would be easier to be a loner, BUT i wanted when i am a teenager to have a few friends. So when i admitted that, they would let me play for a few minutes out the back on my own, then i knew they were right but it wasn’t easy, and i would go out the front to play with neighbours. The first while it was awkward and i didn’t talk too much but then i really got used to it and i made really good friends with Hannah and Megan.

I used to love kicking a ball against a wall cos it lets me let off steam. So since both my older and younger brother love football i used to play with them and dad. So soon we decided it was time to try a football club.

I wasn’t very settled in the first club i went too. The boys didn’t understand me and i felt stupid. So mum and dad let me stop football for a few years.

What happened next was i was LOVING playing football in school with people i knew, so i started thinking should i join the club my best friend played for. I asked mum and dad and they were very nervous at first, cos i had been so upset at the first club, but i told them that i was not scared anymore, cos i know me more and i know how to deal with things. So they let me try. And try i did and succeed i did!. I still play there and i really enjoy it. And now boys laugh i understand that I am laughing WITH them! We get on really well. I even think there maybe some other special needs people at the club cos we all different – and in my team a bit loopy (in a good way).

Soccer was kind of easy but gaelic was really tricky. at soccer there isn’t s much contact.

But in school we started gaelic. and then we all joined the town club. I had a few problems. Not everybody there understood me, so Mr Murphy (our school Principal)agreed to tell a few boys who i chose about me, and then i would feel a bit more comfortable.

At first when they would shout my name i used to think they hated me…there were a few melt downs and some cuff eating! But then mum and me used to talk about what it meant and i eventually understood that it meant they didn’t hate me, they just wanted me to try a bit harder at that minute. And that everyone on the team got the shouts.

I go to a normal school and in p6 and p7 i got picked to play for school teams. We even won the Northern Ireland Soccer tournament!

One day we were playing a school gaelic tournament , and Mr Reihill had put me in goals. I was really good in goals cos it was easier for me as i didnt like contact, and that was the start of my goalie career. I am brilliant in goals cos i have a high pain threshold like lots of Aspies, so i am not afraid to go for ANY ball.

Last night we had a club presentation night and guess what?

i won this years most improved player award!

so it showed how much i enjoy doing goals, and i am very glad we kept up trying the sports 🙂

I play sports now and train 5 times a week – one tennis squad, 2 soccer sessions and 2 gaelic sessions…so i have lots of sport and lots of friends. I hang out most with the ones i am comfortable and most friendly with. and i can head off on the bus to matches.

i really enjoy it!

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