Home > General > Progress measured – thanks Yankee Stadium :)

Progress measured – thanks Yankee Stadium :)

Many of my posts about James discuss his shortcomings, unusual behaviors, and struggles as a disabled child. More and more over the past couple of years, Ryan and I have struggled with the fact that James’s “progress” seems to have slowed considerably compared to when he was younger. Despite the fact that we work increasingly harder to help James, his IQ scores are lower every year and his social skills (with peers) and daily living skills leave a lot to be desired. On a bad day the battle can seem endlessly uphill.

Enter Yankee Stadium. We are not serious baseball fans (football is more our thing) but going to games is an appealing activity regardless. Ryan got some great tickets through work, and after the original game was conveniently rained out we found ourselves able to enjoy a Yankees game on a beautiful Saturday afternoon , several rows back from the field in amazing seats.

It was our first time to see the Yankees play live and our first time at the new stadium, and in my excitement about going I completely forgot to dwell on what James’s reaction would be once we got there. To say James has a lot of sensory issues is putting it mildly – last year we went to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and he cried for the first 30 minutes every time a horn blared, the crowd cheered too loud, the buzzer buzzed, etc. He was able to pull it together enough to watch, and even cheer a little, but was also happy to leave at halftime.

So as we walked further down the stairs and ever closer to the field, I started to worry a little. James looked awestruck by the setting itself, so he hadn’t said too much yet. But I started thinking to myself, people paid some serious money for these seats – what are they going to think if my 10 year old starts crying loudly every time there’s an exciting play? Not to mention the toddler and infant we also had in tow. Talk about potential disaster!

Long story short – it was okay! My two year old was a little stir crazy, but luckily our row wasn’t crowded and she was able to take several trips up to the concessions and bathrooms to pacify her need for stairs. James and the baby were both scared to tears exactly once – during the 3rd inning the crowd let out a collective yell during a particularly exciting play and James and Adam both burst into loud tears. I smushed James’s face into my t-shirt and whispered, “It’s okay to scream for your team when you’re excited. You need to stop crying or we will need to get up and take a break from the game.” Much to my surprise, James stopped crying almost instantly, and somewhat nervously continued watching the game. Within about 5 minutes he was once again following the instructions and cheers on the big screen with enthusiasm.

The next time James cried was at the end of the game. I couldn’t tell if it was because he was sad it was over or because he was relieved of the tension from hours of noise and chaos, and I couldn’t find out because I chose to ignore the fact that he looked upset and ask him what his favorite part of the game was. After a minute of ignoring his fake yawns (he pretends to yawn when he is trying not to cry in front of people, a very creative and heartbreaking thing to witness) he was able to join in singing New York, New York, which was blaring over the speakers on a loop as people left. Thankfully, the Yankees won so James was able to focus on this positive piece of news, and he repeated “Yes, the Yankees won” no less than 50 times as we proceeded back to the subway.

Considering our company, we had a fairly relaxing and enjoyable time at this game. The seats, the weather, the kids’ behavior – all of it was just right. This is nothing short of miraculous. When we got home I was able to reflect on the day and really evaluate the progress that was apparent in James.

The fact that we got to the stadium before I started to worry about his sensory issues showed progress. James crying only once over the noise showed (tremendous) progress. James recovering from being frightened so quickly showed progress. James participating in the game and seeming to enjoy himself showed progress. James using the men’s bathroom while having to wait in line while I changed the baby in the women’s bathroom showed progress. Me needing to focus more on the behavior of the younger two children and being able to ignore James for stretches at a time showed progress. That’s a lot of progress in one day (and paragraph)!

Sometimes it’s hard to see the progress that’s right in front of your face because it can’t be measured by an IQ test or a therapist evaluation. Sometimes the progress hides behind new “louder” issues that have come up. It makes me so happy to know that progress was being made all along, just waiting to be noticed. It makes me a little sad to have not noticed it sooner.

Of course, before I was able to finish this post I got to witness the dismal lack of progress on other fronts, like James’s fear of popping things or things that could potentially pop. But that’s for another time, I think. For now I’d just like to bask in the glow of James’s progress, which easily outshines the brightest big screen in the whole wide world.

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  1. May 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Michaela,
    You are doing a great job as is James. I understand so where you are as I used to have the same anxiety with Chris. I used to wonder what circus acts will be seeing today?? It was the same with Nick and Kathryn, struggling to give them the attention they needed. Keep on, it is worth it!

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