One for the Team


With this crisp, autumnal weather…pumpkin-flavored everything – yum…and football; football; football…I couldn’t help but reflect back to six years ago when my son Ross was part of the football team in high school.

Now, the decision to try out for the Washington Township High School football team did not come easily; at least not for my husband and me. Ross, on the other hand, was headstrong that he was going to try out and he also had his sister’s support. My daughter Ashley had always been, even at quite a young age, my confidant, advisor and go-to person when it came to school/peer-related questions.

Team sports had always been difficult for Ross because of the offense/defense concept, coordination and having to sync moves/strategies with other members of the team, whether it had been soccer, basketball or lacrosse. I remember when he was nine or ten years old, I asked him how he liked soccer. His response was, “I hear you and dad yell; go this way, go that way.” Enough said! Thankfully, in Washington Township we do not cut anyone from the football team. A member may not get much time on the field; however, they certainly get the benefit of weight-training, practicing and just feeling that camaraderie, let’s face it, that we all have wanted to feel at one time or another in our life.

So while I sit here reflecting back, I thought about an email that I wrote to tutors, therapists, teachers and coaches after I dropped Ross off at the first official practice of the 2007 WTHS football season. I wanted to share this with parents because, at times, it’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the things our kids can’t or chose not to do, but I think it’s important to revel in the things that they attempt to do…and that’s exactly what I did in this moment!

08/15/07 at 11:47 a.m., I wrote:

“I just wanted to take a minute to share a highlight of my summer with all of you who have, in some way, played a role in making it happen.

I dropped Ross off for his first official WTHS 2007 football practice yesterday at 7 a.m. and lost it. Maybe it was because the night before we had watched World News Tonight which highlighted a camp for autistic children…a camp where, for the first time, parents were hearing their child speak a word. (A pediatric neurologist at Jefferson Hospital said Ross would never speak; teach him sign language.) A camp where these children got one-on-one interaction (that same one-on-one interaction that many of his tutors so painstakingly carried him up to his room seven days a week to give.) A camp where these children were rewarded and recognized for quelling the anxiety they felt about having to put themselves in a swimming pool for the first time (recognition that many teachers/tutors/therapists have given inside the school setting and outside the school setting because they knew it took fortitude on Ross’ part to quell that anxiety without medication.)

I watched him as he got his duffle bag out of my car, swung it over his big, broad shoulders, held his head high, gave me a wink, and walked onto the field with so many big, strong jocks. I just sat there and thought about the strong constitution and self-confidence it must take to be able to do that, especially in Washington Township where we have so many outstanding athletes competing, private trainers, etc.

In closing, I pulled away and thanked God for “blessing me with a child like Ross”…and then I laughed to myself and thought, I’ll bet God never heard that prayer before…actually being thanked for sending a parent a child with a lifelong challenge! But Ross has changed my life in so many amazing ways and I have all of you to thank for that, because don’t think for one minute that you haven’t played an integral part in it!”

So here’s to a fabulous 2013 football season…no matter who your favorite team or player may be…and to our kids who make us extremely proud whether they’re on or off the field!


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About Linda Burns

As a working court reporter and also owner of Infinity Court Reporting, LLC, I have become the chief, cook and bottle washer, which definitely has its ups and downs.  If I had to choose my favorite aspect, it would definitely be reporting at the depositions.  I love watching a case develop, producing a quality transcript and, at times, getting to see the case through to trial with my clients.  My most favorite aspect of my personal life is being the mother of two great kids!  I share our story in “Beating the Odds at Autism; One Family’s Winning Hand,” and I look forward to creating many more of life’s chapters with them!

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