Nascar is one of my son's sports interests, and it has been very good for his social skills. When we were at Crazy Horse Memorial he was able to have a conversation with a stranger once the subject of Nascar came up. When we go to the Speedway, the other season ticket holders that sit around us no longer notice the things that make him different. In fact, our arrival is eagerly anticipated and my son is warmly welcomed. Everyone is glad to see him.
One of the positive aspects of my son's autism is that when he becomes interested a sport or any other subject he studies it in depth. In fact, I would venture that very few people understand the rules of a sport he is interested in as well as he does. Now that I think about it, it may be a male thing more than an autistic thing. My late husband could give you infinite details about college football teams and players. My son can do the same thing about Nascar. He knows the rules, he knows who owns and drives every car, he knows every detail of every drivers career. And he knows the rules. So, when we go to the races, the people around us don't see someone who is challenged, they see someone who is knowledgeable. They see someone who can answer any question about the sport, and they look forward to sharing that sport with him.
It is always a joy to go to the races with my son. It is always good for me to see him in a situation where he is admired. Now I personally think he is the most amazing person I have ever known. But, I admit that as his Mom I may be a tad biased, so it is always good for me to see him succeed in a social situation.
Races are a week long round of activities in our lives. There are show cars displayed around town and there are opportunities to meet your favorite driver. We take advantage of as many of these opportunities as we can. One of those opportunities this year was also what I call a divine appointment. Like the young woman I was able to share with at Mt. Rushmore, or the gentleman that talked to my son at Crazy Horse, an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time. We were standing in line at a local grocery store waiting to meet Clint Bowyer. I got in a conversation with the 2 people in front of us in line.
The conversation started off about Nascar. But was soon about something even more important. It turned out that the gentleman was the father of a 9 year old son, a son blessed with autism. As my son was able to hold a conversation with this man about the sport of Nascar, I could see that something even more important was happening. This father had never met an adult with autism, and he was soon sharing with me how important it was for him to be able to talk to my son. To be able to first see my son as a fellow Nascar fan before he saw him as a person with autism.
When we become parents, we dream dreams for our children. The first time you hold that child in your arms, you think of the future.As your child grows from a newborn to a baby to a toddler, you start to imagine what they might be when they grow up. When you start to figure out that there is something different about your child, and then perhaps when you receive a diagnosis you often have to let go of some of those dreams, but you are in uncharted territory, and you don't know what the future is going to look like. So often, we have no frame of reference because we have never met anyone who has faced similar challenges. Standing in line that day, this father met an autistic young man. A young man who was knowledgeable and interesting, and for the first time in a long time this father could imagine a future for his son.
I think that is a great return for our Nascar dollars, don't you? Makes me a very proud Nascar MOM!