Parenting While Autistic – Kids’ Sports

I was reminded, while catching up with The Silent Wave’s blog today, that I will soon be gearing up for a new sports-season with one of my children, whom I will refer to as “sporty-child” for this post, which is primarily about me, not them. I’m going to be extremely vague about said sport in order to preserve anonymity, but the relevant info is that it’s a competitive team sport that requires a moderate amount of travel during the sport’s season.

It’s very important to me that my neurology and those of my children don’t prevent any of my children from pursuing the activities in which they’re interested. So I try very hard to provide them each with opportunities tailored to their own interests.

In order to keep things simplest and least stressful for everyone, they each get to choose one big outside of the home activity that’s their own and doesn’t involve the rest of the family. These are generally things such as a sport, choir, theatre, dance, scouting, etc.

Basically, I try to minimize extra activities in general unless there’s a good amount of interest in pursuing them. That way we all have enough energy available to manage their participation in the activities they really want to do.

Anyhow, for a multitude of reasons it’s not particularly workable to take sporty-child’s siblings along during competition season. They get cold and bored and complain a lot, as bored children tend to do. Dealing with their very natural reaction to being there plus the crowds and traveling all cause me to be extremely stressed out and overwhelmed.

Putting aside the very real potential for melting or shutting down under those circumstances, I also don’t get to enjoy watching sporty-child participate in their sports event when I’m overwhelmed and having to care for the other children.

Which is sad because it’s super fun to watch! I love watching people do the things they love to do.

Because of that, husband usually stays home with the other children and I’m largely responsible for everything sport and travel-related for the entire season. This division of labor was borne out of necessity at first and now it’s just the way we’ve continued to do this.

So, anyhow, here are a few things that have helped me survive being in charge of all the sport-related things so far.

Before doing anything else, I make lists of everything. During the preparation process I double-check them dozens of times. Even so, we have almost left the house before without sporty-child’s uniform on at least two occasions. Thankfully I’ve always remembered before we’ve actually driven away!

I list out what needs to be done, bought, and packed in three separate lists.

Common to-do items include creating a fun music playlist for the drive, calculating what time we’ll need to leave, booking a hotel if we’re staying overnight (this requires finding a hotel and then booking it once I manage to get my debit card in the same room as my computer while I’m remembering to book the hotel), filling the car tires full of air and tank full of gas, setting all the applicable reminders on my phone so we leave on time, and making sure that sporty-child and myself are both ready to go.

Also on the to-do list is to gather as much information about the sports venue ahead of time as possible: where the parking is, how best to get there from our home or hotel during the time of day/day of the week when we’ll be traveling there and how long that’ll probably take, how much cash I’ll need to have for parking/entry if applicable, and about how much time to allow for walking from the parking area to the venue. If it’s possible to drive to the venue and scope it out the night before then I always do that too.

Usually the items to be bought are snacks or other food items for the trip, during the sporting event, and during our stay if we’re staying overnight.

The things to be packed are basically everything we could possibly need during a trip: Books to read, computer/notebook/pens with which to write, phone for photos/videos, earbuds in case I get overwhelmed, extra chargers for everything electronic we pack, sporty-child’s uniform, regular clothes & pajamas for both of us, toiletries, snacks, cash for the sporting event itself as well as extra cash in case something unexpected happens with the debit card, and shoes (we often forget our shoes unless they’re on the list).

I also make a list for sporty-child so that I can make sure they’ve packed everything they need and we won’t have any unexpected trips to the store in a strange town to pick up forgotten toiletries, shoes, or anything like that. I always make sure they bring something to occupy them during the trip too.

I must say that it’s gotten easier the more that I’ve done this. It helps to always bring something to the events for me to do. Many of sporty-child’s teammates’ parents know that I can’t usually recognize people so they tend to wave me down once we arrive so I can sit with the parent group for the team. Sometimes they want to talk to me and other times I read or write while waiting for the event to start.

My kid’s sport is also one of my focused interests about which I can easily rhapsodize for hours. So I can talk to sporty-child’s teammates’ parents about our kids’ sport, even when we have nothing else in common 🙂 This definitely helps ease the potentially overwhelming and treacherous social situation in many ways!

8 thoughts on “Parenting While Autistic – Kids’ Sports

  1. Aww thank you for the mention, dear! I love this post, by the way, and I wish you safe and smooth travels and best of luck to the sporty one! 😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like I am lucky, raising an Autistic kid whose passions match my husband (gaming, Lego, etc.). I worry how I’d handle it if I got a neurotypical or “sporty” kid. If that ever should happen as a late surprise, I am so glad you wrote this, and also I can better learn just how you manage so I can direct others your way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Yes, I find my autistic child(ren) to be much easier than my allistic one(s) for a variety of reasons. I expect my experiences with allistic children are similar to allistic parents’ experiences with autistic children. Aside from our entire society being set up to support my allistic child(ren), of course, which is super nice, let me tell you!

      I do enjoy some aspects of having a sporty allistic child. I get to hang out during practices and bring books/computer and get “me time” while watching them do something they love. As long as things go smoothly (and I plan everything out with contingency plans out the wazoo), I enjoy traveling and meeting new people.

      The whole thing is a pretty decent mix of challenging and enjoyable and at least sporty child’s chosen sport isn’t one that requires weekly trips or anything like that and the season is pretty short. It’s also gotten easier for me with practice 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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