Helping families dealing with autism spectrum disorders
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Sports and Autism

Posted by Patricia Harkins in Behavior | Stories

Mother’s Day, and I am going to the local AA baseball game with my 2 kids.  When I was pregnant and found out I was having a boy, I thought “Oh no, I’ll have to go to baseball, football, and soccer games in the cold!”  We lived in Pittsburgh then, so you can see why I was worried.  Then I ended up with a son who had no interest or ability in sports.  Then one summer, he discovered computer versions of several sports – Backyard Baseball, Backyard Football, Backyard Soccer, and Backyard Basketball.  He could make up teams with “little kid” versions of famous sports stars – Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, etc.  He then played “tournaments” on the computer.  When the summer was over, he knew how the games were played, all the rules, and all the scoring.  He still had no interest in sports, but when they played the games in PE, he was the perfect umpire!  He knew the rules, and applied them evenly (because he has Asperger Syndrome).  He can have a good conversation about the sports with people, and they have no idea he never watches or plays the games.

What’s the point?  One, these kids can learn anything on a computer.  Two, just signing them up for a sport usually backfires.  They can learn the game on the computer.  Then you can work on the skills needed separately.  Then they may be more able and interested in actually playing the game.  If not, they can always be the umpire or referee.  Happy Mother’s Day, and PLAY BALL!

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One Response

  • Lady Fern says:

    I live in Maine — same trepidation. Brrrr.

    I like what you share in this post. I think people underestimate how great a strength visual memory is, and I’ve seen so many kids with seemingly less than average cognitive ability harness it when given the opportunity! Sometimes invisible labor (mental repetition) is effective in ways that physical repetition can’t be, for some people.

    My son learned to teach other people to do what he can’t. Eventually he became quite the athlete himself. Funny thing is the OT eval numbers that *should* affect his ability to do so remained the same, more than -2SD.

    Do you ever wonder if, through the industrial revolution era, we didn’t pay attention to what was lost from education (or because of it) in the vein of training natural visual/spatial skill? Did we become too obsessed with the verbal/sequential?