Friday, August 15, 2008
Dr. Kidd's Game,
Dr. Kidd has been on a mission lately to get some recreation going for kids on the spectrum. I was a little skeptical about her baseball (actually Wiffle ball) idea. But I assumed that 1) she would pull it off with some kind of visual support magic or something, and 2) she was a talented baseball player--and this would make up for my barely knowing a shortstop from a catcher. I invited kids, and altogether we had four elementary aged children. These kiddos clearly knew as much as I did about baseball, which is to say nearly nothing--except for one who knew a lot about the numerical aspects of baseball. The surprise was that 1) Dr. Kidd did not need much in the way of specialized visual supports because the kids were quite enthusiastic about playing, and the game intrinsically has good supports 2) Dr. Kidd did not appear to know much more about baseball than I did.
My daughter's boyfriend, who does know baseball, was roped in and played pitcher for both sides. The parents, siblings and neighbor kids were also there and some appeared to know at least some of the language of baseball. The language kept the whole game moving along. Go batter batter batter! You're Out! Strike Two and One Half! There is a lot of distinctive, and highly charged language to this game and here is a tip to remember: kids on the spectrum love distinctive and highly charged language. Baseball language is all so intense and specific. So, the distinctive language and the distinctive place and the distinctive props (balls, bats, gloves, and bases) all provided enough support to keep the kids focused and enthusiastic. We should have had uniforms--at least two different colored t-shirts to designate teams because some of us kept forgetting what team we were on. This was our only planning mistake, and even this did not matter much because the game was sustained not so much by clear rules or structure, but by a united effort to make sure every participant had a good time.
Clearly, sports are not usually on my radar but I had a wonderful time yesterday. I knew all the kids who were playing. I met each of them first at a time in their lives when playing baseball of any kind seemed unlikely. This was a lack of imagination on my part, apparently. As I was tagged out by a little boy who could not say a word when I first met him, I wanted to cry. Tahirih, he said, there are two outs and our team is ahead by five runs. I looked at him with mock consternation and told him that it was soooo unfair! But the truth is, we are all in charge of making things fair in the social world. With a little effort, imagination, love and little else--we can level the playing field so as to include anyone who wants to play.