Schoolyard Picks

I suspect the ball bounced off my foot.

I was just diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in December of 2022, a few weeks before my 58th birthday. I wrote about what caused me to seek this diagnosis here. I’m rather new at this stuff, and I’ll be blogging quite a bit about various aspects of it as I go along, reading and learning and wondering what this means for me, as I suspect that quite a few other people are experiencing a similar thing.

Check out my autism category for a list of relevant blog posts, and never forget that 1) I’m just one person, writing about my personal experiences with a thing I only just learned I had. 2) No two people on the spectrum are alike. 3) I am not a medical or mental health professional. 4) I’m not attempting to write a one size fits all autism advice column.

Having been born so close to Christmas, I was always the youngest, smallest kid in my class. Picture that, then add a heaping helping of undiagnosed autism to that tiny little sundae. What you’re left with is a kid who is all but invisible when it’s time to do a schoolyard pick for any sport.

Kids are cruel at the best of times. But always being the last person to be chosen for a team is an extra-special level of excruciating and humiliating. Autistic kids already get the message that they’re not good enough without having to participate in a daily bit of rejection theater for all the world to see.

But for one brief, shining moment in elementary school, I got to be picked first. It was a pure accident, but in one particular soccer game, I kicked the ball so high and so hard that it flew halfway across the field, over everyone’s head, and landed neatly in the net. Gooooooal!

I was just as shocked as everyone else. As per usual, I had been in my own little world. I suspect the ball bounced off my foot. I know it wasn’t dispatched with any intention or skill or forethought on my part. But because of that spectacular fluke, for the next two games I was picked first.

Those teams lived to regret that decision, because I never again duplicated that move. In fact, right after that epic kick I was instantly back in my dissociative state, probably imagining some scenario from the book I was halfway through reading and longing to return to. That incident certainly didn’t motivate me to try to be some kind of a soccer star.

Oh, you’re picking me first now? Wow. Okay. Yeah. Anyway. . . La, la, la. . .

I don’t think schoolyard picks are the best idea. There are already plenty of opportunities for kids to be mean to one another. Gym teachers shouldn’t give them one more.

Instead, why not draw marbles or something? Everyone takes one, and they’re all revealed at the same time. Black marbles put you on team A, white ones on team B. Nobody gets picked first or last. Not only would that be more kind, but it would be a teaching moment.

Kids shouldn’t learn that it’s okay to rank everyone from superior to inferior. They should learn to play with the cards that they are dealt, or in this case the team that they wind up on with little personal input, because that’s how life usually is. They should learn to assess strengths and weaknesses, and work together to make lemonade out of lemons.

That idea probably came into my head when I should have been concentrating on something else. But I view thinking outside of the box as an autistic strength. If you think that skill is not valuable, then go ahead and pick me last for your think tank. You won’t know what you’re missing.

I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that?


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

2 thoughts on “Schoolyard Picks”

  1. Well, finally, here’s one kid who’ll be too busy to be mean, while ranking himself superior and bullying those he deems inferior, because… and there’s more indictments on the way. Donald couldn’t make lemonade because every lemon he touches rots before he admits it’s a lemon. If not for the vertigo I’d be dancing and jumping on my bed… SOOO happy today😃

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