Basketballs
Breaking the...ice?

My regular readers know my son has a number of special needs. One problem we have struggled with for years is social interactions. He has to go to the school on the other side of town to receive special services. This makes it hard for him to have a social life. Torn between the team-based learning classroom and the full inclusion classroom, he's not in one spot long enough to make social connections. Being "that kid", kids don't seek him out to play. Being weirdly self-aware of his differences, he's afraid to ask to play. The fear of rejection is only magnified by his issues, making it crippling at times. Even if he does make a friend at school, cementing those relationships outside of school is nigh impossible, because all sports placements are based on your local neighborhood school. Since he attends a school outside of our neighborhood, his acquaintances are on the other side of town, and sports are on our side of town. It's a bifurcated social reality that makes it almost impossible to have a social life.

It is what it is. He needs those services, and we can't really move to the other side of town. But we could try to ease his social interactions at school. We needed to play to his strengths. Out of all his many positive strengths, the one we found to work with is his athleticism. He's a natural. So, I convinced him to buy a basketball and football with his allowance. He needed new ones because the emotionally needy dog we had ate his old ones. Why didn't we just buy them for him? Because learning to work towards long term goals and to save money are invaluable lessons; lessons which are particularly hard to learn for ADHDers. By using his own money, he'd have a vested interest in keeping track of what he did with the balls.

Much to our absolute joy, it worked beautifully. He very quickly had a group of five or six kids who play with him every day at recess, and a similar group in after care. He is much happier. He isn't as lonely. He became responsible about material things for the first time in his life. Those balls broke the ice which led to one further step on the road to inclusion and acceptance.