APE – the Asperger Parenting Experience

The Life and Times of one Asperger Parent

Asperger’s Syndrome Goes Bowling

Posted by Patrick on 22 January 2008

Well, it was MLK day in the US, so I was off work and the boys were out of school (only my aspie goes to school on Mondays anyway). We decided that we’d go out to have a family lunch (another post unto itself) and then try our hand at bowling. The bowling outing, I must say, was much anticipated after my aspie learned how to maneuver through Wii bowling (the Wii Sports version, not the full-on bowling game that’s out there). Though he lacks some actual technique, which I don’t expect him to have at 4 years old, he is actually pretty good at the game version and has beaten me a few times.

We chose an AMF bowling center near the house, mostly because it is near the house and if things went very badly, we didn’t have far to go to get home. I was more concerned with energy levels depleting in both of our boys than anything else since it was immediately after a large Mexican lunch. However, we didn’t have issues.

The hardest part of the bowling experience… well ok the most difficult of the difficult parts… was when we first arrived and had to endure a 20-minute wait to get a lane. All aspie parents deal with impatience – I believe I deal with a severe case of impatience by comparison and I have a less stressful time in other areas typically troubling for autistic kids’ parents. Fortunately, this center had a game room. At 4, my kids are still happy to be toying around with the games and not whimpering to shovel money into them to actually play; I’m thankful for that, because every game at this place was 50 cents or more and appeared to be pretty short games. Nonetheless, we got through this with minimal kicking and screaming.

Bowling itself was an amazing event. My aspie is actually intelligent above age level in many functional areas, and severely deficient in a few others. For example, at 4 he can count to 100 and can multiply (yes, multiply) up to 5×5 in his head, but he can’t read very well (out of disinterest) and he has difficulty using logic to solve problems. He is bi-lingual in Japanese and English and knows age-appropriate ASL, but he has trouble with sentence structure. Anyway, off subject. Bowling was an amazing event, as I said. He’d never been to an actual bowling alley before, so the location itself was pretty high sensory overload. They were doing cosmic bowling or whatever where they turn on a bunch of blacklights and then strobe all these disco-esque things all over the lanes with party lights — it’s great for kids but if you actually want to bowl it’s hard.

The first time he went to bowl, I had to show him the proper way to hold and roll a ball. This didn’t go well. He has the coordination to perform the throwing motion, but the 6-pound ball was too heavy for his fingers to carry, so we went with the “granny shot” between-the-legs push instead. This was great — after 3 times of accompanying him to the foul line to ensure he didn’t fall on his face, he spent the rest of the time going through the entire routine by himself. When it was my turn, he was anxious enough to show me which ball was mine and how much it weighed so I would hurry up. I abstracted myself a little bit from the experience and saw a miniature rain man going through his routine from start to finish every time it was his turn. It was quite an experience. Plus he scored an 85 and nearly beat his mother, so it was fun for everyone.

I detail this account not out of pure desire to recollect a positive experience, but to provide some insight into the inner workings of my son. Every child with AS is different in their own way; I feel fortunate to have a son with full motor skills and strong academic capacity.

What I want to hear from those who read this blog are some of your own positive experiences, some types of activities that work well for your child(ren), or some other things that you do to pass the time in a positive, successful way. Hopefully the things that are shared here create some ideas for other AS parents who are searching for answers or options.


2 Responses to “Asperger’s Syndrome Goes Bowling”

  1. Stephanie said

    “Strike-ing Similarity” My aspie is 12 and he likes to go bowling, one of very few “normal” things he can/will do. He gets A’s and B’s in special ed., chats pleasantly when he feels like it, and has the same disinterest in reading and adherence to routines. It’s so interesting. My big questions are about co-morbidity–but that’s another post.

  2. nan said

    Bowling was always a favorite here, too. Amazing, given the, as you noted, sensory overload which nearly drove *me* screaming from the place. (it was a birthday party day and very chaotic)

    He tells me now (I just asked) that he liked (still does) getting spares and strikes, or the possibility of getting them, and together we determined that maybe the level of sensory overload is *so* high that it’s all-surrounding and therefore he was able to tune it out somehow, kind of like loud white noise??

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