Friday, March 24, 2006

A Wanna-Be Hoopster

Our son Matthew (10) deals with with a high-functioning form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome so the following account by my friend Greg Asimakoupoulos of this true, feel-good story really hit home. Thanks, Greg!

Note: I just learned from Greg today (Sunday, March 26th) that he has a 6-year-old nephew with Asperger's Syndrome.

Here's his poem:

A special needs student,
he dreamed of the day
his coach would say “Jason,
it’s your turn to play.”

But Jason McIlwain
was hardly convinced
his dream would be realized.
He sat on the bench.

While dressed in his street clothes
as managers are,
this wanna-be hoopster
was hardly a star.

He gave the team water.
He handed out towels.
He cheered for his teammates
and protested fouls.

Autistic and awkward,
and often left out,
young Jason refused
to get angry or pout.

He did as requested
and honored his team.
But never gave up
on his unlikely dream.

And then came the last game
and out of the blue
the coach said, “Suit up, son.
Tonight’s game’s for you.”

He sat with his teammates
all beaming with pride.
His team dominated.
Their lead was quite wide.

Just then he heard “Jason,
it’s your turn. You’re in!
You’re part of the team
so go share in our win.”

Good Lord, it was magic
as everyone screamed.
This special needs student
was living his dream.

In the space of four minutes,
he scored twenty points.
The grandstands went wild.
Every fan in the joint

knew Jason was gifted.
The whole crowd agreed
that labels are lethal
when you've special needs.

To be called autistic,
you're thought of as odd.
You're misjudged as if
you've been orphaned by God.

How hurtful. How stupid.
How wrong can folks be.
Quite often these kids
are much smarter than we.

From Jason McIlwain
we all have been shown...
You can't judge another
by what he's most known.

Within every person
God's image is seen.
So why don't we help them
discover their dreams?

- taken from

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