“Hockey Ready” for Autism?

T over here while the play is the other way

We managed to avoid it last year. The whole notion of T joining up for hockey.

As a number of our friends registered, we were just in the throes of a fairly new ASD diagnosis…trying to figure out what exactly that meant, how to help T, how to make sure we survived as a couple, and so much more. We were definitely not ready to face another “team sport” challenge (soccer had been an epic fail the year before).

I had designed T’s entire room in a sports motif, full of references to hockey, baseball, football…and he couldn’t care less.

But then a good friend of ours gave T a poster of players from the Toronto Maple Leafs which we put in his room and out of nowhere he started to show interest in hockey. As we often have experienced with Autism, he also tends to obsess and suddenly became obsessed about the 4 players on the poster, reiterating every night their positions, their names and talking about the people behind them in the stands and even what they were doing.

So this year, when T asked if he could play hockey, we tossed and turned, discussed, debated and eventually decided to take the leap and sign him up.

We had no doubt that he would enjoy playing hockey (over the past year we had done a hockey fundamentals program which taught the kids how to skate, how to hold the stick, how to turn- he loved it) but we weren’t sure of our ability to not get frustrated as we watched from the bench.

We were warned by other parents that many kids get out on the ice and spend more time gazing at the ads or the scoreboards. They were right.

The first game brought an overwhelming series of emotions. T was so incredibly excited to be out playing hockey. Dad was so very proud that something he thought we would never see (T playing hockey) was actually happening. I was a bundle of nerves. So proud of him for getting out there and doing something he wanted to and absolutely crazy over the fact that every time the puck came by, he would be oblivious to it. He just skated and skated and skated (he’s not great at stopping yet) but his delight coming off the ice that he played hockey was worth every hair pulling moment throughout the game.

I know we are just getting into the season and this is a long road ahead….I know I will be biting my lip through every game…wishing and hoping that he finally gets into the game that he loves talking about so much.