Baby Steps on the Spectrum

I take a variety of assignments as a substitute teaching assistant. Most of them are in special education which was how I came to suspect I was living on the spectrum. But ever so often, I can hang out in the gym subbing for a P.E. aide.

One such day I was alone in the gym for a short time. I saw a basketball on the floor and I got the inkling to see if I could toss it anywhere near the hoop. My expection was not high enough that the ball would go through; just in the ball park of the hoop. Since there were no eyewitnesses, I had nothing to lose. The ball never quite made it through the hoop, but it came awfully close. What surprised me wasn’t so much that my tosses weren’t totally far off from the intended target, but I liked it. I sure never did when I was in school.

Why now? It was something I could do solo! It doesn’t take two to shoot baskets. Now if someone had come in and joined me on the court, it would have poured cold water on my fun. I would have dropped the ball and let the other person have the court. ASD explains why I can enjoy playing games but only those that are very simple if I have to play in a group; or even far better, I can play by myself. I dig the sound of “solo”!

Later in the day, I was with three special education aides and their class for their half-hour of gym time alone. The three other ladies were talking amidst themselves. I eyed a basketball and decided to risk shooting baskets even though there were witnesses. I was emboldened because having tried earlier, I already knew I wasn’t a total klutz at it. After a few attempts, I finally got the ball through the hoop. I was so proud! I lifted my arm in triump, turned and looked back for some reaction, like maybe applause or something. The three aides were immersed in conversation and the kids were occupied playing. I was a little disappointed at having a victory with no cheer, but I didn’t bother with asking them, “Did you see what I did?”

I continued shooting baskets as if I was a natural. I stopped when my upper right arm muscle cried foul.

I know this is a simple everyday kind of risk-taking story. Well, many bumps along the road of living on the autistic spectrum are simple stories. Baby steps.


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