Callie and Christian are both old enough to participate in Special Olympics now, so I signed them up for track and field. Chad, who is 36 now, was active for a few years when he was in elementary school. For a variety of reasons we stopped participating, not the least of which was his fear of starter guns. He would stand at the starter line with his hands on his ears waiting for the gun to go off and after all the other athletes were well on their way he would start his run.
I assumed with the awareness of sensory issues, sensitivity to sound being a big one, another way to start races would have been in place. But, as Callie lined up to run for the first time, with her ear protectors in place, she saw the starter gun and started walking briskly the other direction. I was very clear that if the gun was used, we would likely have to leave and the dad put the gun away without hesitation. I asked the coach if they would be used at the meets and the answer was a clear yes.
It seemed an e-mail to the state office was in order to express some dismay that the use of guns was still in effect. The reply I got was that when a sport traditionally uses a starter gun, then that's what they do. If an athlete has a problem with the gun a whistle can be used in it's place. Now this really shows no understanding of sensory issues as any gun going off anywhere in the arena will send Callie running - and not as intended.
After stewing about it a bit I decided that we should figure out a way for her to make peace with the starter gun. She can't spend her whole life arranging her life around the possibility of loud and unexpected noises. So, a new pair of ear protectors, hopefully a more effective pair, are on order. The $200+ ones are out of our price range, so hopefully the $35 will suffice. I'm also tracking down a starter gun and darn it we're going to do our level best to help her overcome her fear. She's overcome so much, why not this?