How not to bowl

Bowling has always been a favorite thing of Dude’s. Back in the day, we would videotape the PBA tournament on ESPN for him every single Sunday. Dude watched the tapes on repeat. For a while there, I could name the top 20 bowlers on the PBA tour off the top of my head.. Not a skill I ever thought I would have.

Since Dude moved out, he joined a Special Olmypics bowling league. We thought he enjoyed it, but it recently came to our parents’ attention that Dude has on several occasions refused to get out of the car to go participate. Based on some anecdotes, it sounds like the place is a sensory nightmare, and since Dude can’t say, “Hey, I physically cannot handle this,” the best way he communicates it is by refusing to budge from the sensory safety of the car.

This past Sunday, Mom and Dad decided they would take Dude to a quieter bowling alley so they could observe his behaviors and figure out if they could help problem solve the Special Olympics issue.

The first game passed without incident. And then.. Then the second game started.

(Sadly, I was not present for this, but I made my parents describe it to me in painstaking detail, so hopefully I do it justice.)

At the beginning of the second game, Dude is standing near the ball return with his arms folded across his chest. Dad encourages him to pick up his ball and get the game started. Dude doesn’t move. Dad lightly tugs on his arm. Dude doesn’t move.

Without warning, Dude (in a fit of rage–reasons unknown) springs into action. He lunges for the closest bowling ball, which isn’t his and is 2-4lbs heavier than his typical one. He runs toward the lane, stops at the foul line, and HURLS the ball down the lane in a perfectly executed basketball chest pass (aka sooo not how you bowl). The bowling ball flies about 8 feet down the lane before it even hits the ground.

Keep in mind that Dude has ridiculously low muscle tone, which means that there is hardly ever any force or oomph to his movements, so a 10lb bowling ball flying 8 feet through the air is pretty darn impressive.

But Dude isn’t done.

He decides to take off running down the lane AFTER the bowling ball.

The thing about bowling lanes? They’re slippery.

So Dude is slipping and sliding down the alley, and Dad takes off after him. Our 6’4″ father demonstrates something akin to a tightrope walker crossed with a first time ice skater and manages to catch Dude before he dives headfirst into the pins at the end of the lane.

Mom is standing next to the ball return, mouth agape, shoulders slacking, arms hanging loosely by her sides with her palms turned out in supplication to the universe. She manages to pull herself together enough to turn toward the employee counter and cry, “Can someone HELP US?!”

Two little boys from a birthday party a few lanes away abandon their game and watch the scene unfold with wide eyes.

Dad catches up with Dude about 6 feet from the pins and has a firm grasp on his arm. Dude is bent over at the waist, staring into the pins where the ball has since disappeared, thinking who knows what.

The teenager from behind the counter slowly meanders up to Mom and comes to a stop next to her.

He clears his throat, turns toward our shell-shocked mother, and says, “I’m really impressed. Other people never get that far.”

What can I say? We like to keep it interesting.

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BBC – My Autism and Me

I saw this video over a year ago, but I just rediscovered it.

It’s really quite brilliant.

I’m fascinated by people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who can thoughtfully communicate what it looks like, feels like, and means in their particular circumstance. I always learn something new when watching videos like this. Hopefully you will too!