Monday, January 20, 2014

McNaul Story in Jan. 15th Calgary Herald

Hockey passion unites Calgary family dealing with challenges of autism Minor Hockey Week focus on McNauls, who are raising one son with the condition and another who is a thriving peewee hockey player BY JEFF MACKINNON, CALGARY HERALD JANUARY 15, 2014 Calgary Herald Some of the McNaul family’s happiest moments take place at the Rosemont outdoor rink. Twelve-year-old Matthew plays shinny there every night that he’s not at one of his minor hockey games. Jamie is among the crew of neighbourhood dads who diligently keep the ice in tip-top shape. Patrick and mom Shino Nakane are watching most nights too. But back in 2001, the same rink was the scene of one of the family’s saddest memories. It was the day Jamie, Shino, two-year-old Patrick and newborn Matthew stopped by the rink during a stroll through Confederation Park and saw a father and son passing the puck around. Patrick, who is now 14, had just been diagnosed with severe autism and the family feared Matthew, now 12, would be autistic, too. That scene hit hockey-loving Jamie hard. “My husband looked a Patrick’s little face and said with tears in his eyes, ‘I guess that will never be us,’ ” Shino wrote in a submission to Hockey Calgary for Esso Minor Hockey Week. “Jamie looked at me and said, ‘I just wanted to play hockey with my son.’ ” Shino said she grabbed Jamie and promised him that Matthew would learn to play. “After the words slipped out I thought ‘what am I saying? I don’t even know if Matthew will have autism or not.’ ” she recalled. “But as I looked at my family, I knew hockey was going to keep us together.” It has. Matthew grew up to love hockey and plays pretty much all sports. He’s a defenceman in peewee and the family spends a lot of time enjoying the game. “Ideal scenario I’d have both boys in it, but who knows, maybe one wouldn’t have liked it,” said Jamie, who is an assistant coach on Matthew’s McKnight team. “As a dad all you can really do is share your interests with your kids and they either stick or they don’t.” Patrick is able to kick the soccer ball around with his brother and dad at Confederation Park in the summer. “This past year, Patrick could pass the ball with Matthew and Jamie, and I was watching the three of them, which was so great to see both my kids doing something with their dad,” said Shino. Jamie said he is very appreciative that he gets to experience hockey as a dad. “Certainly in the autism community there are families with one child or that have multiple children with autism that can’t take part,” he said. “We’re certainly hard done (by), but there’s a lot of potentially more challenging situations,” Jamie continued, after Patrick had entered the living room of their home to greet a guest. “On the continuum where this one ranks in relation to having a child with cancer I personally don’t feel like I’ve been dealt a bad hand.” Esso Minor Hockey Week continues a busy stretch of hockey for the McNauls. They were out at the Rosemont rink virtually every day over the Christmas break. The whole family was, including Patrick, who loves hockey in his own way. He especially loves walking around on the ice. “In the summer if we walk a certain way, he’ll veer off and head toward the rink,” Shino said. “I don’t think he understands that there’s no ice there, but there’s something he’s drawn to about the area. “I think it’s the kids and the families. Everyone’s having a good time and there’s laughter and activity. There’s a buzz about outdoor hockey that he really seems to enjoy being around it.” And an activity that the family once thought may never be a part of their lives has become one of their favourite things.

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