One Kid at a Time
Alexis shares her perspective on her brothers
“A small black hole starts to form. It starts as tiny and harmless. But it aggravates me and grows into something I can’t ignore. Then it consumes me, and I begin to lose control of my own body.”
My brother, Jimmy, is on the autistic spectrum, and this is how he describes his severe anxiety and panic disorder.
Growing up with my brother, I learned to love and appreciate every part of him—both the special needs, and the talents that accompanied it. I worked as hard as I could to make his black hole just a little bit smaller, but I often wondered—was there anywhere he could go where people would look past his anxiety and see the real him?
Yes, there was: E-Soccer. For the past ten years, my family and I have been attending this full-inclusive program, both as players and as coaches. It’s so refreshing and relieving to know that my brother will have people who care about him just as much as I do. Not only does E-Soccer boost his confidence, it also gives him friendships that he has kept outside of the program.
My other brother, John, who does not have special needs, has benefitted from E-Soccer as well. Living with Jimmy can be difficult at times, and John often has a hard time understanding how Jimmy’s anxiety affects him. Being around other kids like Jimmy at E-Soccer has helped John take on a new perspective, and he’s beginning to understand and have compassion not only for Jimmy, but for kids with special needs in general.
I’ve watched Jimmy and John shape what they learned and gained from E-Soccer to help others. Our family friends have a son who has similar challenges as Jimmy. He’s younger, and has more difficulty controlling his anxiety. One time when they were over, the son began to have a meltdown. My brothers took him into another room, showed him their Legos, and helped him relax.
This interaction taught me what E-Soccer is all about. When we care for and include kids, they turn it around and do the same for others. They want to help kids in the same way that they themselves have been helped. In this way, the black holes just keep getting smaller, one kid at a time.