A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

All The Flavors of Soccer

The oldest boy has played soccer for several years. The girl started this year playing indoor soccer for wee ones, and we decided to move up to the regular outdoor soccer league this fall.

What that means to the twins is, they go a lot and watch their siblings DOING things. I've always felt like that's probably a drag. I mean, they seem to LIKE to go, but what is there to do? Go and watch someone else do something, wow that's probably great year after year.

There are a lot of activities and camps and events for high functioning autism kids. Our group here is really awesome, and I am so glad they are able to provide that. But what about our little guys on the more challenging side? I mean, they like to DO things. Why isn't there ever anything for US to do extra curricular with our Miles and Charlie?

Well it turns out, there is a thing or two. Hats off to Atlanta Fire United for offering TOPSOCCER. It gives Miles and Charlie an opportunity every Sunday to get out there and play just like their siblings.
They spend about half of the time doing various play activities based on the abilities of the kids there. There is a range from little guys to young adult and the volunteers running it do a spectacular job of dividing them up and keeping everyone interested.
We sit on the sidelines and everyone cheers and shouts as they complete their activities, cheering even louder for the kids who need it most, the enthusiasm from the parents is amazing. I think it's partly just being so glad there is a place and event FOR our kids. We range from autism & down syndrome to various physical and mental disabilities that I don't comprehend. It doesn't even matter. They're out there running, sometimes with help, and kicking the ball and scoring. Just like regular kids.
This is the same league Louis plays in, AFU, and so he goes out to help during the practice and game. There are sometimes other older kids from the teams who come and help - they do an amazing job working with the kids, it's really impressive.
I think one of my favorite things is that they do work with them to learn real soccer fundamentals. Sure, it's scaled into bites that they can handle - but I love watching them. 
They also do fun things that give them good work outs and are variously sensory stimulating - like this one, they run with a parachute behind them. The idea is to make it fly. Miles thinks it's HILARIOUS especially when it flies and makes the whipping, flapping noise behind him.
I've heard it mumbled that these things are "for the parents" and I have some thoughts about that. First of all, if it was FOR THE PARENTS, why would that be SO BAD? I mean, as parents, we do have needs. We need to feel like our children are developing. We deserve to have moments that are unique and special - when I said MILES SCORED TWO GOALS his second game, I actually mean MILES SCORED TWO GOALS. 

Louis only ever scored one goal and he's been playing for years, plus that one was accidental and off of his head. So really, would it be so bad if we took them to play soccer just for the much needed parental ego boost? 

You don't get many of those, as special needs parents. You get events that aren't for you, activities that aren't for you, school nights your kids won't understand or also - aren't for you. So the fact that we seek out something THAT IS FOR US so we can participate in the "My kid did XYZ" conversations, would that make us SO BAD? Nope. It wouldn't. 

But the truth is, it isn't for us. Despite Charlie whining because he gets hot and tired, or Miles not wanting to take directions sometimes because he wants a different activity, they're both smiling and laughing by the time we're done each Sunday. They get to run and play and chase a ball. We're outdoors in the sunshine, and there are other little kids. They are kids who don't stare, kids who want to play too. 

It's amazing and it's wonderful. I am so glad we found it.