Dominos, Legos, Baseball cards, Youtube and visits with Pop

It seems when we are young kids we always find things to keep us occupied and busy for hours at a time. I remember when I was a kid I had a prized collection of baseball cards which I could take out of my shoebox and spread out on my bedroom floor and organize by team or by favorite player. I always enjoyed my baseball cards and remember how much I looked forward to spending my allowance money for a new pack of topps cards to add to my collection. The duplicate cards I would use in the spokes of my wheels to make a flapping noise when I rode my bicycle with friends on the streets of Brooklyn, New York or I would use my duplicates to flip cards with other kids in hoping I would win some Met playing cards.

My favorite all time player was Roberto Clemente who played for an opposition team, the Pittsburg Pirates but I just thought he was an amazing player and a lot of fun to watch play the game. When I learned of his passing on new year’s eve 1972 I was very sad. I remember he was flying to help people affected by a terrible earthquake in Nicaragua and he unfortunately went down in a plane crash en route for a humanitarian mission. Baseball and the world lost a great man that day. I learned that day there is a lot more to life then winning a baseball game and I would miss Roberto Clemente and was just so fortunate to have the opportunity to see him play and get his 3,000th career hit off of Met pitcher Jon Matlack. He is the only major league ball player to be inducted into Cooperstown waiving the 5 year waiting period.

My son Matthew has varied interests and I started his baseball card collection the year he was born by purchasing boxed sets of topps cards that year and for the next 5 years. He had more cards in those sets than I could ever dream of. I had to acquire my cards the old fashioned way. I wanted to make it a little bit easier for him. I figured when he was 7 or 8 he would get to appreciate his collection of baseball cards. As the years have gone by and he found out about his sets of cards he started to open the sets and view them on his bedroom floor like I did when I was his age. I tried to explain to him that he should be careful with them and keep them safe in the box after he was done playing with them. Matthew would like to arrange his cards in number order and also would like to arrange them by team. He can spend hours at a time playing with his collection of cards.

Lego blocks are also a favorite activity for him as he loves to build tall towers and city structures in his imaginary city called Lego City. He enjoys using his matchbox and hot wheels cars and lining them up by the lego towers he so carefully builds and also placing trees and bushes around the buildings he spent hours creating. I am very impressed with his designs and his ideas. Matthew is inspired to build his lego towers after we visited the Empire State Building in New York City on 34th street and he was just amazed by how tall the building is and how long an elevator ride it was to the top. He wished he could press all the buttons on the elevator like Buddy Elf did in the movie Elf, one of his favorite Christmas movies but I said “I don’t think so!”

Recently Matthew has developed an interest in youtube where he has viewed all sorts of videos which are quite entertaining. We have watched videos together on assembling tremendous house of card structures and watching them be toppeled by the creator. Another fun activity portrayed on youtube are domino chain reactions. It is incredible how many domino videos there are and how much fun they are to watch. The creators also enjoy putting them together in all sorts of arrangements and on multilevels and set them to music. The most fun as Matthew says is watching them topple over perfectly. Matthew is very perceptive in realizing it takes hours to build such elaborate arrangements and only minutes to knock them down.
Matthew and I also enjoy watching music videos and movie clips. Matthew loves watching the Walt Disney movies on Youtube and has favorited all of his favorites. It is amazing how fast the time goes when you are on youtube. Matthew and I can spend 3 hours watching videos and not realize it.

Matthew also enjoys setting his dominos up with mommy and daddy and grandma’s help and likes setting them around tables and by his Lego city and in circles and zig zags and straight lines and as letters in the alphabet. He also loved to show Pop his dominos and his Lego City and Pop was so proud and always enjoyed seeing Matthew smile and enjoying himself. He always is careful in trying not to set them off to soon and has gotten frustrated at times when sections have started to fall before he started the chain reaction. Once everything is set he loves to start the first domino and when they start to fall it is very exciting. You should see the smile on our faces when they all topple as Matthew intended. It is a lot of fun and these are the things our son enjoys when he is home. He has a fun time and we encourage him to do things like this because he enjoys them and he is happy and content with these activities. We just hope he can share the joy of these activities with other kids his age.

It seems for most autistic children time alone involved in activities like these help but it is so sad knowing that they are missing out on the social integration and outdoor fun. I wish so much more for my son but realize it is a gradual process and we must allow him to ease into it as we have tried to get him involved in social activities only to see his frustration and anger appear. My dad was very loving to Matthew and he would come and visit and talk with him and make him laugh and my dad was good at getting Matthew to come out of himself and talk and sit next to him and just bond. It was a joy to see. Pop loved to see Matthew having fun with his dominos and his Legos and he was always so happy to spend time with him. We truly miss those times but I know Pop is here in spirit and watching over our son and protecting him and helping him to smile and have fun.

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