Delayed or diminished development is common among people on the autistic spectrum. In Aaron’s case, his affected areas are physical and social. Although in many ways he is physically like any other typical teenage boy, there are differences. For instance, he is extremely aware of his body. Each visit to the doctor requires more time than we expected because Aaron needs to dig in to all the details by exchanging volumes of information with the doctors. This actually pleases the doctors because they appreciate the depth of his self-awareness as well as his ability to articulate his symptoms and responses to treatment. This is in stark contrast to my other autistic son who says absolutely nothing to the doctors, usually requiring an advocate to assist in expressing his medical needs.
About two months ago, Aaron emerged as the top-seeded varsity chess player at his high school. Like with his physical issues above, chess is another area where he really dug in. He quickly out-learned, out-studied, out-paced, and ultimately out-played everyone else both at school and within the league. For the first time in his life, Aaron expressed his ego when I asked him how a particular match went. “Dad, I am the best player at school. How do you think it went?” he replied. He said it as if there was any other possible outcome. I was delighted. Aaron felt good about himself and his accomplishment.
A few weeks later he came home and announced another startling revelation. “I knew I was fast. But I didn’t know how fast. But my gym teacher wants me to join track right away.” This from a kid who does not run except maybe once or twice a year with his parents in a 5K just because it’s fun. Now all of a sudden he’s a track star?
Well, some Aspies can be like that. Aaron gets armed with knowledge, encouragement, and ego and he believes he is, by foregone conclusion, the greatest. We (his mother and I) brought him slightly back down to earth and explained the steps to go through to back up his boast.
He joined the team and started doing trials for the coach. Sure enough. He is fast. How fast is he? Not as fast as he will be once he starts getting coached, trained, and strengthened. By next season, if he sticks it out, he could be a star athlete in mid-distance running (400m and 800m).
In the meantime, that physical thing has come back to haunt him. He is six feet tall and weighs about 140. Last weekend he was playing Knockerball. Getting knocked around was an understatement for him. Much larger kids whacked him around like a bowling pin. Because of his slight frame, he was not snug inside the ball so he suffered double from the initial impact as well as the internal bouncing around (almost like whiplash and limbs crushed against the body). He came home sore and with an ice pack on his neck. While his injuries may have been somewhat exaggerated due to his acute body awareness, they were nonetheless real and sustained for a few days.
His conclusion was to start bulking up. Which brings us full circle to OCR training again. Now Aaron has motive to add muscle not just for play time, but also for track speed. With targeted training, he’ll reap the benefits at the meets and on the playground. His commitment to OCR is still undecided. His coaches may ask him to defer until the season is over. Runners gotta be runners without injury. And with OCR, well, injury can be par for the course. But I am hopeful, still holding onto some free race passes for him to join me this summer at Palmerton, Tuxedo, and CBP. One thing is for sure, if he shows up, he will be fast, leaving his old man in the dust.
Fast gear for track speed