By Kodey Toney
Take Me Out To The Ballgame
I keep talking about how we must push children with autism into uncomfortable situations if we ever want to help them overcome or build a tolerance for their sensory issues or social awkwardness. This weekend Jen and I took Konner, and Kruz, on a sensory adventure. We took a trip to Kansas City for a Royals game and to visit family. The game was an overload, but he did very well.
Despite the fact that Konner has no interest at all in sports, we decided this should be a family outing. It was pretty hot, and that alone was enough to set Konner's fuse, but he endured well and really didn't complain too much.
He did have to use the bathroom every couple innings, but I'm not sure if that was a real need, or an excuse to get up and move. He was obviously bored most of the time.
Around the eighth inning he decided he needed to use the restroom again, and since Jen had gone before, it was my turn. As we headed up the stairs he began to ask me questions about the game. This is the first time that he had really shown interest in baseball, so I gladly helped him out. He wanted to know how many strikes there are in an inning. I explained that it was complicated, but that there could be as many as 18. He, being quick with math, figured out that it would be nine per side for six outs in the inning. I was very proud, and a little excited. He then worked up that there were a possible 27 strikes left in the game. I had to do some math in my head, he's way faster that I am, but I came up with the same figure. Being both proud of his math and the fact that he was taking an interest in baseball I praised him.
"That's very good Buddy," I said.
He quickly said, "I hope it goes fast. I'm ready to leave."
Deflated I realized he only wanted to know because he was ready to go. He'd had enough of the game and was trying to calculate his exit.
However, he didn't know that the second round of sensory torture was just around the corner. On Friday nights the Royals have fireworks after the game. Konner hates fireworks because the noise hurts his ears.
When I told him we were staying for the fireworks he said, "Oh no! Please no! Can we just go back to the hotel.
During the fireworks he said with fingers in his ears, "This is loud, too loud."
Now it may seem to some that we were torturing Konner, and I suppose on a small scale we might be, but understand a few things; this isn't new to him. By that I mean, we've eased him into this. We have slowly, over the years, built up a tolerance for loud noises and places. We also are working to make these situations better in the long run.
I know this, if the Royals game was too loud we will not be taking him to a Chief's game, once the loudest stadium in the NFL.
I asked him at the end of the night what his favorite part of the game was he said, "When the innings were over. The end of the game."