Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Search of Bobby Fischer

D and I have sporadically played chess over the last years. He picked up chess quickly and impressed me with his ability to accept the competitive challenge of chess. When he asks to play - I play....but can not gauge if that is "interesting" to him.

Most recently, JP has been reintroduced to chess - given his own chessboard and the book "chess for kids" (Thanks Abu & Ita!). He is like a sponge....literally read the entire book in one night....and re-read the book again last night.

We played chess the last two nights. If you can believe it - he got better on the second night (he pulled a castle move on me!).

I have a competitive nature (as some of you may know), so realizing this kid was REALLY PLAYING, I started to REALLY PLAY. Oh did I mention this kid is competitive and wild about sports like me? (smile).

Midway through our game, I looked up and saw my 6 year old across from me - PLAYING CHESS! I was impressed. I was shocked. I was touched. I was happy. My competitive juices reigned in, I just soaked up the moment. He might remember this game someday, he might not. But I always will. Thank you JP - I have found my Bobby Fischer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

LeBron James

For a Dad and his son, there is nothing better than having a catch. If you are follower of this blog you know one of my earliest posts was on this point - "Fathers Playing Catch with Sons" and my longing to have a catch with D.

This past week while picking up JP from Flag Football....D and I headed over the NYA and walked into the gym. Unexpectedly and without warning...D picked up the basketball and asked to shoot hoops with me. In minutes, we were engaged in a true one on one basketball game. I was impressed with his dribbling, his shooting and his speed. I was shocked at not only his skill but his willingness to play and engage with me.

Needing to catch my breath, I held the ball and asked him if he wanted water. He replied, "Nah". I said to him - "D, you are really great at dribbling and shooting!". He said, "Yeh, I guess Dad.....but that's what you taught me, right?"

Yes, son.... just like I taught you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Parenthood Matters

The TV show Parenthood is definitely striking a personal heart string. I absolutely relate to the family (specifically the Dad) dealing with autism. I hope they continue to bring poignant storylines on this issue.

Most recently the show helps me realize how life moves fast and I FORGET about dealing with autism and I FORGET how far our family has come (or yet to go) This show brings back a lot of those feelings for me - feelings I need to deal with.

For instance, yesterday D had his first Karate competition. Two highlights for the day were: 1) D was in our backyard practicing his moves (literally breathless) before the competition 2)The utter joy/excitement/happiness I saw on his face when he received his ribbon for competing.

In the 9 years of D's life, I have never seen him this excited in preparation or conclusion of ANYTHING. That, was sad to me. But that is a reality of autism....a distancing of emotional and social connection.

He is connecting with Karate. He knows every move without hesitation. This is expected as he knows every state capital AND knows where every state falls geographically on a US map. Literal, factual stuff is an Aspergers thing.....don't ask him to "wait one minute"....because he will literally wait ONE MINUTE. :-).

I am coming to grips with learning about this world of Karate. I am also coming to grips with the Karate financial commitment (can it really be that expensive for a belt test?) but that is another blog :-)

Seeing him yesterday, he maintained focus - accomplished his 3 moves (i think brilliantly) WHILE being in a noisy hotel room filled with kids and parents is no small feat in his world (or mine). That is our parenthood reality.

For a moment he was connected with life's reality and it was good....really good.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back To The Future

Been thinking about my Dad lately. Specifically thinking about the people who were around me during this time. There were folks outside of my immediate family who supported my family during the time of his sudden death. I am extremely thankful for them and I wanted to ensure I did thank them (even 22 years later) but honestly not sure how to do this - but will give it some thought.

Maybe I wonder how he would handle the challenges I am facing as a father to a child with autism. Maybe I would just like to have that beer with him and speak to him man to man (never got that chance). Maybe I feel cheated that he never did get to meet my wife or my children. Maybe I am grateful for the time I did have with him and more and more grow to appreciate that time. Posting here helps and I need to do that more.

Overall I definitely sense I am a lot like my Dad. But yet there are major differences as well. I am coming to grips with that as I get closer to his age when he died. He was 43.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Anniversary Present

Kids came through with an interactive high tech anniversary presentation. Created on their own using powerpoint. Take a look at PDF version. It doesn't give the interactivity and presentation justice.....but hopefully my sense of PROUD comes shining through. Thanks Kids!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Arthur discusses Aspergers Syndrome

I found the below clip interesting and very empathetic by the creators of the cartoon, Arthur. They have introduced a character with Aspergers Syndrome.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Want to play a Game?

Chess has always intrigued D. On Saturdays when time allows we go to the library where they have an open chess club. This past Saturday the boys were excited to go and upon arriving at the library the boys scanned the room. There was 8-10 young boys (ages ranging from 7 - 14) along with 6 adults. Once a table became free, D's eyes lit up and he was ready to give it a shot. An 11 year old boy invited D to play and cautiously I watched this play out. Knowing this boy played chess often, I did not know what to expect. My concern was that D knew how to play the chess pieces but not necessarily how to protect them (the strategy behind the game).

I watched as my son played his first competitive chess match. There were many wins for him throughout the game (what glee in his eyes when he captured the bishop). But as time continued on, D was left with only his king and 3 pawns. Tears started to well in his eyes knowing defeat was upon him. I let D know he could keep playing or he could drop his king and say "good game" to his competitor. I truly expected a complete meltdown and a table to be overthrown (pieces flying everywhere). D extended his hand (grudgingly) and a lesson was learned. Withing 5 minutes, JP jumped in and played with D and life moved forward (brother against brother).

A lesson was learned that day. As another adult said to me as he watched this game play out, "It is never easy to lose, losing still hurts and we are adults". I don't like watching my kids lose. Yet today's loss felt so much like a win. A leap of faith for D to play, lose, and play again. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Karate Kid

D is a Karate Master. Well, I am not sure about the exact discipline but he is currently training in a form of Shaolin Kung Fu. Today, D completed an intensive 45 minute test and received his YELLOW BELT.

I watched the entire session while the rest of the family went shopping. Now I know why I needed to be alone. Throughout the session I continually choked up and cried. There was a sense of fatherly pride. There was a sense of shock in seeing his attention, interaction and discipline. Mostly, I was overcome with a realization of how far a road we have traveled. Today was a step forward.

We closed the day with a celebratory trip to Pizza Hut and watched the movie, "Karate Kid". David and I entwined under a blanket on the couch giggling to the instructions "wax on, wax off". During a "fight scene" I looked at D and said, "What's he doing?". D said, "He's doing my moves!".

Today was a day the student became a teacher.
Well done son....well done.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Autism Clusters

Good media on the development of autism clusters. Autism is more prevalent in educated white families. Lets see where this heads.