Dare To Dream

By April • May 11, 2014

The video about the young man Jason who is autistic playing basketball is awesome. I think it's great that the world is finally taking notice that regardless of a child being special needs or not they shouldn't be penalized for it & made to watch life happen from the sidelines. I applaud his parents for allowing him to dream & for pushing him to acheive that dream. This is why I thought that I should share with you about my son. His name is Zachary. A 18 mo old he was diagnosed with autisim. The Dr said that he wouldn't ever be able to do things that other "normal" kids do. I cried, I blamed myself, & then I researched. I spent countless hours learning all I could about autisim. At that time autisim was fairly new & what information that was avaiable was based more on opinions instead of facts. I had to try to figure out how to help my son on my own. Early on I started working with Zach on teaching him things. Autistic children have a hard time comprehending things. So whatever I was trying to teach him I would have him do it over & over & over again. The next day I would go over what he learned the day before & add a new task for him to learn. Thses past 15 years(16 yr old) haven't been easy at all. I've not always been patient & more than once I've had to just let him be allowing him to do what he wanted instead of what I wanted. No one is going to learn anything if the one teaching them is frustrated as well. One of those things I taught him was sports. (i'm a diehard sports fan) He has loved sports ever since. He played 2 yrs on the JR. High football team here. Well he was on the team but viewed from the sidelines. He stayed right by his coach, hoping, wishing, praying that he would get to play & every game he was denied until the last game he was able to get in the game for 2 plays. He asked me several times why wasn't he good enough forthe coach to put him in, when in fact it wasn't Zachary's fault or him not being good enough. It was because his coach like so many other would rather shove these kids aside so they didn't have to deal with them instead of educating themselves as I had done. He's1 of the 1st kids here diagnosed with autisim & has had to break down the barriers for all the other autistic children behind him be it with school, sports, or life in general. When he came to me at the end of the 2012-2013 school year asking if he could try to get on the high school football team. Naturally my 1st instinct was to say no. I wanted to shield him from what happened his 2 yrs prior from happening again. I thought & prayed about it asking Him to help me guide my son in the right direction. I called the head coach of the high school team. I explained to Coach why Zachary was the way he was & asked if he would at least let Zachary have a chance to prove himself. He told me that he has a special needs child as well & understood. After hanging up neither his coach nor I knew what would happen, if he would be able to play, how his teammates would react to him being on the team. A week before their 1st home game I called his coach to get an update on Zachary & his progress. I didn't expect to hear what he said at all. He said that he was very impressed with Zach. That he was one of the haedest working players on his team & he wished he had more just like him. He said Zach was fast & a good football player. He said he was very impressed. He went on to tell me that Zachary had earned a starting spot on the team. He didn't give it to him, he earned it. I was in tears. My heart swelled with pride & from that moment on I knew that He had indeed helped me to guide my son on the right path. There have been other autistic kids play in a football game but what sets them apart from Zach is that he is the 1st autistic in the state of IN & quite possibly the country to be a starter for a high school football team & to play in every single game. The season flew by fast. It was awesome to watch him play offense, defense, & special teams. He started & played in every single game. It was awesome to hear the commentator say Zachary's name & number when he tackled the other teams player. If you looked only at the win/loss column for the team you would see that they had a losing season. In truth it was anything but a losing season. These amazing young men took Zach into their circle. He not only earned the respect of his coaches but he earned the respect of his teammates as well. The 1st time Zach made a great play he went to the sidelines & before he could step off the field his teammates swarmed him giving him high 5's & pats on his helmet & back. It was one of the best feelings ever. For the 1st time Zachary wasn't on the outside looking in. He was on the inside looking out. Zachary has become an inspiration not only to me but to so many people. To have a parent come to me or email me saying they heard about Zachary & that through him they too had hope for their child. They would do as I have done & that is to encourage their child toset a goal & achieve it. I've always told my kids if you can dream it you can do it. He ended his 1st high school football season with earning a varsity letter & was voted by every one of his teammates to be the Scout Team Player of the Year. He is almost at the close of his freshman year & already started practicing with the football team to get ready for his sophmore year. He dreams of becoming the 1st autistic college football player, the 1st to win the Heisman trophy, (he already has his pose) & the 1st to play in the NFL. I've been critized by others that I'm setting him up to fail. I don't believe that. I would rather have my children fail at something than to have never tried at all. I don't know what the future holds for my son. I do know that I will always be his biggest fan & that I will always support him in all he does. I thank God & am so blessed that He choose me to be Zachary's mom.

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