Sunday, October 16, 2011

Skateboarding: Who Knew?

Bookmark and Share
Never in my life did I pet my clumsy (like his mom), vision impaired child (worse than his mom... they don't make a prescription strong enough for his eyes... a disease is suspected, but we won't know until he's a little older) as an athlete. Yet, he's turning out to be just that. The sport? Skateboarding.

My son has been practicing religiously since April. He's moving his body, making friends and learning very important life lessons. He's overcoming his lack of vision and developing coordination. He's getting a huge sense of accomplishment as he hones his skills. We watch professional skateboarders on television.

I never realized skateboarding was an actual sport, but I'm learning its value. Living near the beach, we have no shortage of kids who enjoy skating and surfing. I've never seen so many kids skateboarding in my life until I moved here. I never minded the skating activity in our old neighborhood or around our one shopping center because you know exactly what those kids are doing: skating. They are focused. They are staying out of trouble. They are being kids, not little gangsters or hoodlums. Now my child, who is at that age where he is more independent and doesn't always have his parents around to guide him to the good, healthy choice is benefiting from that focus.

Skating has become an obsession for my boy, which is okay by me. It's socially appropriate. He has skater friends. He made a new friend because of his interest in skating. A new friend. That's huge! The older skateboarding kids (some of them in their twenties) take a big brother approach with the younger ones. He learning how to interact in a variety of new and challenging social situations. He's figuring out how to literally and figuratively think on his feet. I'm not sure that would be possible in any other traditional sport where you are coached and guided by adults. This is a free-range sport that's self, peer and community guided. I can't think of another way where he could get this sorta education.

The local skate stores know who my son is and love talking to him about skating. Our favorite store, Liquid, gave my kid (or rather his grandparents) a great deal on new parts for his skateboard and some stickers to cover up their corporate competitors stickers on the bottom of his deck (which I've learned is the proper name for the wood part of a skateboard). My kid completes all the interaction himself with the clerks and shopkeepers. To hear them talk is like listening to another language, but it's nice to hear that your kid knows his stuff.

Our area lacks an actual designated skate park, so in the next town over a church has donated part of its parking lot for a mini-skate park. Kids and their parents, shop owners and enthusiasts have donated and built ramps and other neat skate equipment for the area. I never knew skaters would have such a sense of community, but I'm glad they are influencing my son.

I don't know if this is just another aspie phase, but until he's done with it we will encourage him. We will help him foster self-confidence through the sport of skateboarding. We'll support the skater community and local businesses that support him. And we'll guide him through the social lessons so that he can continue to grow and thrive. Skaters don't care if you have autism as long as you skate.

I'm going to take the time to give accolades to the church where the skate park is located: This particular church is extremely active in the county, helping families and the community like nothing I've ever seen before. The funny part is this church's congreation is made up largely of the gay, lesbian, transexual and transgender residents of our county. I often think to myself that all churches should be like this church. My husband had an office there and we have friends that attend that church. If I were to go to church, it would have to be this one. Acceptance is an amazing thing and it is a rock in our community.  

No comments: