Third Place ?

Here are two of my favorite PJ stories.  They  are  in “Inspired By Autism”,  but I include them here for those of you who have not read the book.

PJ is an extremely good athlete. He won many gold medals in the Special Olympics for running, jumping and skating. He could not understand rules and regulations enough to play team sports, but he loved the individual events.

The first time that he won a gold medal, he came home, removed the medal from around his neck and proceeded to drop it in the trash. I rushed to intercept his medal disposal and explained to him that this was very important and we wanted to keep it. The medal did not have the meaning to him that it does to us. After that, he would take off a medal that he won and hand it to me.

He is a very fast skater, both roller skating and ice skating. He often skated in Special Olympic events. PJ was the biggest, loudest, fastest, (not to mention blackest) skater in these events, so he became well known.

People began to cheer for PJ. In one event, so many people were calling his name that he turned to look to see who was calling him. He didn’t miss a beat skating, but he did miss skating around one of the cones, so he was disqualified. The officials made the announcement that Pervis Jackson was disqualified.  We all realized this, but PJ was clueless and continued to skate and came in first.

It was decided that he would receive the third place medal because of his disqualification. As the winners came to the podiums, PJ’s usual routine was to step on the third place podium, then the second place podium to get to the first place position. He followed his usual routine, not realizing he was supposed to remain on the third place podium.

The first place winner was already standing on the first place podium and PJ joined him, so we had two smiling winners on the first place podium and none on the third.  (We know that this would never have happened with our “typical” athletes. Can you imagine this scene in one of their events?)

PJ participates in sports for the joy of the sport, not for the reward at the end. I wish I’d had this attitude as I was growing up. I was terrible at sports and would never participate because I knew that I would not do well. There was no “joy of the sport” for me, so that was something that I missed out on, but PJ didn’t miss it.

To paraphrase Thoreau , ” those who do not keep pace with their companions may hear a different drummer. Let them step to the music they hear, however measured or far away.”

Until next time; May you have Peace, Love and Prosperity in your life.

Claudreen Jacks

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