A network to share best practices for children with special needs
Hope you are well. My son participated in T-ball last Summer through the community sports and rec. We played a team with a little boy in a wheelchair who participated in the T-ball game when batting and in the outfield. It put a huge smile on everyone's faces and both teams were so accepting. He had a device on his wheelchair which held his bat and allowed him to hit the ball on the T. His teammates caught the ball and then threw it into his glove. A child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) was also able to participate through education of the team and coaches. He played the same base each time in the outfield so he could get used to what to do at that base, and when he was in the outfiled he had a teammate with him. Batting was up to him and everyone on both teams were cheering for him! I have found that being up front with the coaches and kids goes a long way in team sports.
In our area there is an organization called TASK which stands for Team Activities For Special Kids.It is in St.Louis, Missouri. Our son has autism and participated in floor hockey and cooking class. For floor hockey, a volunteer stood with him. When the puck came to him the volunteer did hand over hand and helped David hit the puck with his stick. Our son David never ran for the puck. So the volunteers included him in the game by directing the puck to him so that he was included in the game. I thought this was so special that they did this for him and the other kids who could not fully participate without assistance. TASK plans on having a Social for the teens with special needs this winter. We are planning on getting him involved in this.
My son has Asperger's, although now it's just called Austism Spectrum Disorder. My son grew so many social and team-building skills by participating in Upward Soccer, Basketball and Flag Football. We live in a community where all the neurotypicals are obsessed with athletics and having their kids on select teams, yada yada yada. Since my son has poor motor memory, his gait is a little awkward -- not enough to impede him, but definitely enough for people to notice. He has no interest in truly competetive sports, which made this a perfect fit! What I find SUPERIOR about this program is that not only is the pressure to perform OFF, but their priorities are on character development, teamwork and sportsmanship. Everyone cheers everyone on, everyone has a chance to play each position, and each team is compiled of teammates at roughly the same level of performance -- so there are no big stars and no bench warmers. For those of us who have no desire to get wrapped up in the elitism that normally surrounds sports, this program is a GODSEND. My son has developed actual LEADERSHIP skills that he has used in other social situations, and now although he is still most assuredly an aspie, he has learned how to get along in a way that therapy had failed to thus far. I couldn't praise them -- or thank them -- enough. This is my son's last season with Upward (due to his age), and I was excited to hear they're in the process of developing a program for middle-schooler's, too.