Friday, January 15, 2010

the perils of bowling

Martin's class went bowling yesterday. He scored a 69. According to his teacher, Martin seemed to have a lot of fun once he got the hang of things. But the first few rounds were fairly stressful. Martin did not want to take turns.

For some reason, autistic kids have a hard time learning how to take turns. Part of Martin's therapeutic program last year included reading stories about taking turns, rewards for taking turns, and games about taking turns. He's made progress. He can sit through a game of Crazy Eights (with other rules modified). But Martin did not want to wait for his turn to bowl yesterday. And he was upset about it the rest of the day.

I could tell that Martin was upset for two reasons. He misbehaved all afternoon and early evening. And then close to bedtime, he became mournful. He came to me, with tiny tears in his eyes, saying, "The arrow was not pointing at me. It was not my turn. And Mrs. S said I should wait and Mrs. F said it was not my fault." All of these sentences referred to bowling, but then Martin moved on to other things he thought were sad. "I saw a picture of a baby in the sky. And it was baby Jesus. Let's go find the baby....And I think the Muppets are scared because it is nighttime."

I'm not sure if bowling was so upsetting that Martin had to experience a full-on, makes-no-sense, depressing evening, or if he just connected anything he feels confused about to his frustration at the bowling alley and needed to say those things out loud. I just let him sit on my lap and tell me about the bowling and baby Jesus and the Muppets. I offered him a bowl of cereal, which seemed to make things almost better. Then I tucked him into bed - surrounded by stuffed animals - and he fell fast asleep.

I'm reluctant to try bowling again.


  1. Wasn't one of your first dates with your now spouse at a bowling alley? And wasn't it while you had a broken leg? Not sure if this is true or if I made it up or why I remember it, but it seems like there was a story about bowling with a broken leg that generated some frustration on your part. Not quite the same as Martin's, but maybe a point of reference? You eventually bowled again and enjoyed it, right? It just took some time. Perhaps Martin will have a bowling birthday party one day, *because* he wants to take turns. I'm gonna live in that hope.

  2. I remember hearing about that bowling date, too, and I well remember the reason for the broken leg! My boy who broke your leg took the credit for your marriage, and by extention, the existence of your children. So feel free to thank or blame him, depending on your mood. Or, send him bowling with Martin the next time around.