Soccer with the Stars (#466)

A friend whose son is also autistic noted that, while he could do the basic skills—kicking and dribbling—quite well, when it came to doing these while running up and down a field with several other children all trying to get their foot on the ball, all trying to keep their eyes on the ball, her son was not able to pull what he knew together.
Soccersubastris
Add the serious glare of lights so bright that night became like day—not to mention the first chill crisp of autumn air and long grass gloppy and wet from the rain—not to mention the fact that it was 7.30pm after a full day of school and two hours of ABA (with a new therapist-in-training whom Charlie slowly warmed up to play catch with)—and you have a potentially confounding, possibly over-stimulating, array of variables at “soccer under the stars” for one other autistic nine-year-old (Charlie) to manage himself in.

The special ed parents group for our town had organized a night of soccer with high-school soccer players helping out. “Sockerr,” said Charlie as I double-knotted the laces on his sneakers. He held Jim’s hand as we walked onto the field and joined three other children in front of a goal, where a teenage girl was alternating calling out “good job!” and tossing back the ball. Charlie stood as another boy kicked the ball hard; when the ball was about to be thrown to Charlie he was running off in what I’ll warrant was a perfect circle, out into the grass and gradually back. Jim and I at first ran after Charlie and directed him to stand and kick, which he did once before heading off on his circuit-run again. “Kick the ball!” we said. Charlie put out his right leg and putted the ball forward a bit; “kick it again,” Jim said, all enthusiasm, and Charlie did, and the ball wobbled forward. Charlie raced off.

“What’s your name?” asked a skinny ninth-grader, who was barely taller than Charlie.

“Chahee,” said Charlie.

“He can dribble it really well,” said Jim. “Just try kicking it back and forth with him.” The ninth-grader eagerly tried this and Charlie, one of us beside him, kicked the ball with her for a few rounds, then was off to run his circuit. “Hey Charlie!” she called out.

The high school students organized a game and Jim and I took turns running in the general direction of everyone, eyes on the ball, Charlie’s hand in ours. He smiled a bit but mostly looked perplexed: How to see a white sphere spinning madly amid legs and feet? We let go of his hand and Charlie kept running, straight this time, to the other side of the field, then walked-ran back, hands in his front pocket.

Jim shrugged. “He’s got that nice smile on. It’s not easy.” We kept our eyes on our boy, now running and warbling his way in a Charlie-scribed line near the edges of the soccer field.

I looked up and, far away above the electric glare of lights on mini-skyscraper-sized posts, I could see the stars, and how they seemed to shine even more brightly upon those other stars (and my all-star) shooting over the mud-flecked grass.

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Comments
One Response to “Soccer with the Stars (#466)”
  1. tara says:

    Charlie seems to be game for just about anything!! It is nice to hear that some high school students helped out with soccer night. Owen has done one soccer clinic so far and really enjoyed it.

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