Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bowling With Friends

Last Sunday, we celebrated Autism Awareness Month with a bowling/pizza party at the local lanes. Lady Di coordinates an autism support group in our area. Meetings usually are attended by eight or nine families at a time to discuss autism, asperger's and various successes and challenges.

So the group went bowling. We had five families show up for bowling and pizza. A couple of the lanes employed the bumpers. That is one advantage of bowling with young children. Our bumpers got a pretty good workout. I think the kids even bounced a ball or two off of them.

Both kids love to go bowling. Number One Son was a little frustrated with his second game, but he still had fun visiting with a few of his friends.

Sweet Pea had fun every time she threw the ball down the lane. When she didn't knock down very many pins, she would put on a dramatic face and slouch back to her seat before laughing. When she got a spare or strike, her two fists would rocket into the air with a "WoooWhooo!" as she skipped or danced back to her seat. She also invented a different to way to high five after a good frame. She would put her palms together and we would slap the backs of our hands back and forth three times.
After the first game, I let the kids bowl a few of my frames while I hung out at the pizza and root beer table.

I could tell that the kids had fun, because it was hard to get them to leave when we were done. It was nice to get together with families that face some of the same challenges that we do in day to day life. For some with autism or asperger's, the noise or the smells of a bowling alley would be too much of a sensory overload. Our group, however, had no problems and since Minnesota is smoke free in public areas, bowling alleys are now much better for people with sensory issues.

An added benefit to the outing was showing the public that having autism or asperger's doesn't mean being unable to enjoy normal activities as a family. Many times families struggle with prejudice and embarrassment when kids act up in public. But autistic kids are no different than other kids in that respect. You, as a parent, learn what situations to avoid, and our children learn how to cope with sensory and social challenges. How else will they learn how to behave if they never get the chance to be in a social situation?

So, next time you are at a restaurant, or grocery store or bowling alley, and some one's kid is having a meltdown, autism or not, don't think of it as your evening being ruined. Think of it as a child who had too much to handle this time, but will probably do better next time.


The Father of Five said...

That is so funny you mention to be patient and understanding...

I find myself MUCH more (significantly MUCH more)understanding of other peoples children when the "melt down" than I am of my own children.

When I see others, I tend to feel sympathy for the parents, and try to make them feel like it's no big deal (cuz really... It's not).

Our Priest even once interrupted church services when there was an unusually loud child crying. He reminded everyone that instead of feeling frustration, we should all be thankful that this parent has made the decision to bring their child to church - in a day and age that many do not. And a couple of years of this child's crying very well may result in a lifetime of involvement, and dedication to our church. He then thanked the mother of the child for bringing her child to church, and for not leaving. Then, he returned to his homily. I will NEVER forget what he said, and how he said it.

So, if your kids are crying around me, worry not... If my kids are crying around you - then I'll hold myself to a higher standard....

delightful-d said...

Great post Husband! You are so correct on how people should handle situations with children - Autistic or not. Sweet Pea & N1S did so well bowling. They were so well behaved! Although, I was worried about you at the pizza table for such a long period of time.... ;)
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful day with us. We love you!

Anonymous said...

Very well said. We have had our fair share of public melt downs. Bowling sounds like a blast.

a husband said...

Sounds like a great night, and thanks for the reminder. This blog is very encouraging to me.

Anonymous said...

I miss bowling. It's one of those things I love to do, but CareerMom doesn't. But I tell ya, when my boys get a bit older, we're totally gonna do some serious bowling!

And kids bawling in public places just doesn't affect me much anymore, unless it goes on and on and on and the parent doesn't at least acknowledge the fact that there are others around and doesn't at least try to do something about it. But there are times that no matter what you do, nothing works and you're stuck with either leaving your food on the table, or gritting your teeth, apologizing to everyone around you, and pushing on through.

Russell said...

Whether it be bowling, eating pizza, taking a walk, watching TV together, going to the library ... any and all the above are great because you are doing activities together with your family.

It doesn't get better than that. And, as the father of an only child who is now in her second year of college, I suggest this -- enjoy every moment with your family as they are growing up.

Looking at the photo albums in the quiet of your home and waiting for a call from you daughter like a teenager waiting for a call is, well, not nearly as much fun...!

ALF said...

what a great way of keeping things in perspective. I always try to be understanding of screaming children - sometimes I feel the same way but it's socially unacceptable for me to start screaming and throw myself on the floor.

Above Average Joe said...

Good to hear you all had fun. The Champ just went to a birthday party at the local bowling alley. He had a good time.

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.