I just got through cajoling my seven-year-old to practice tying his shoe and will continue cajoling him when he gets home from the supermarket with his mother to practice riding his bike. Physical activity isn’t his cup of tea, which makes it difficult for him to play the type of games that little kids value (e.g., throwing a ball) and to perform tasks that are pretty important at school (unzipping his fly to take a pee). Hooray for the authors of this study who have determined that autistic kids have physical challenges beyond not being able to look you in the eye. These challenges have defined our son’s autism and are especially hard on stud dads like myself. Who wants to admit his kid can’t throw a pigskin? It’s even worse in our jock-centric country. It’s unAmerican!

So I’ll pin this to my shirt:

Children with autism often have problems developing motor skills, such as running, throwing a ball or even learning how to write. But scientists have not known whether those difficulties run in families or are linked to autism. New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis points to autism as the culprit.

And this:

In addition, the study showed that the lower motor proficiency score in children with an autism spectrum disorder, the greater the degree of social impairment and severity of the disorder.

“Kids who have difficulty with motor skills might have trouble with what we think are simple things like brushing their teeth, buttoning, snapping or starting a zipper – things that are so basic to being independent, but would cause other problems at school,” Hilton says. “They would need to have an aide or someone helping them, and that would set them off as different from the other kids.”

These impairments can lead to bigger problems later on, Hilton says.

I’ll show it to his IEP team when they threaten to cut his occupational therapy services. I’ll send it to Anthem-Blue Cross as they consider our appeal to win him back the extra OT therapy he received. I’ll show it to his next lugheaded sensei or gymnastics coach. But mostly I’ll keep it pinned close to my heart to remind me that he isn’t refusing to become the next Jeremy Lin just to piss me off.

6 Responses to Some Autistic Kids Unlikely to Become the Next Jeremy Lin

  1. Kathy Benison says:

    Thanks for your post, California Father.

    I noted the same thing long ago about my 12-year-old son diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Physical activities really don’t interest him much. He has been taking swimming lessons for years, and says he enjoys it, but has remained at level 2 for many years because he is stiff and not confident in the water; now he is taking private swim lessons. He learned to ride a bike without training wheels and can do it, but cries because he does not like the “wobbliness”. We recently bought him an adult tricycle (same size and height as most adult bikes, but with two rear tires spread apart so it is more stable) and, so far, he seems to like it.

    I have had some moments of sadness in realizing my kid is not like the many other boys his age, playing little league baseball and hockey. But that’s just part of the acceptance that comes with autism.

    As a parent, it is difficult to know how much to push him towards physical activities. For me, it seems best to realize my son’s comfort zone and encourage him to be active within that.

  2. Thank you, Kathy, for the comment and sharing your story. As you say, finding you child’s comfort zone is what it’s all about, which unfortunately is sometimes a difficult lesson to learn.

  3. Julie says:

    So much cajoling, so little time. My son has similar issues with his motor skills. We’re just trying to figure out what works best for him, even if he doesn’t always meet society’s expectations. He’s an individual, to be sure. We love him like that. Being different shouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s our differences that make us individuals.

  4. Thanks, Julie. I love my boy like that too. Good luck to you….

  5. Liz Ditz says:

    I found this post quite moving, so I posted a link to this this post at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Facebook page. More thoughtful and encouraging comments there:

    http://www.facebook.com/thinkingpersonsguidetoautism/posts/379168132095609.

  6. Thanks so much, Liz. The comments above and on your FB page show how important this issue is. For my wife and me it defines our son’s autism but doesn’t seem to get as much attention as equally important facets of ASD. Maybe this study will direct more attention to the motor challenges that many of our kids have. Again, thank you for your great group, blog and all of your support…CF

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