Every Special Needs Kid Needs a Buddy

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at AutismWonderland.

The weeks leading up to Norrin’s diagnosis, I tried to prepare myself to hear the words: Your son has autism. But a parent is never truly prepared. I still cried and blamed myself. My husband, Joseph, had a much harder time. When I saw Joseph cry that day, my heart broke. I felt all the dreams a father has for his son crumbling.

As Norrin started the alphabet soup of services – ABA, OT, PT and Speech – the therapists asked us about our concerns. Mine were speech and self-help related; Joseph’s revolved around throwing and catching a ball.

That was five years ago. And five years can make a world of difference.

Last Saturday, I saw something I could’ve never imagined when Norrin was first diagnosed with autism.

I saw Norrin play his second game of baseball. (His first game was the before, I was at a conference and missed it.)

Norrin is playing with the Miracle League.

The mission of the Miracle League of Westchester County is to establish and sustain baseball programs for people (of all ages) with disabilities. Our objective is to provide an opportunity or those individuals to experience the joy and benefits that come from playing our national pastime…We believe that everyone deserves a chance to play baseball.

Every kid in the Miracle League is partnered with a “Buddy.” Norrin’s Buddy is a “typical” 15-year-old kid named Caleb. I thought I was going to cry as Caleb and Norrin walked out into the field together. It’s not often that I get to see Norrin interact with any kids, so when I see it, I’m moved. I watched as they played catch, amazed by Norrin’s acquired skill of tossing and catching a baseball.

When it was Norrin’s turn to bat, Caleb asked if Norrin should use a tee. With Caleb’s help, Norrin swung the bat, hit the ball, ran to second base and eventually home. I could tell that Caleb really got it. And I knew that the Miracle League was not only a good thing for Norrin, it was good for Caleb too.

As I watched all the kids with their buddies, as I heard the parents, cheering and clapping for their kids – I felt all the positive energy. There was hope. I felt the difference a game of baseball could make. And I sat back in the bleachers and savored the moment.

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