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Aug 15

Sports

I have two boys and both are very active. If I had a fraction of their energy levels, I would always have a clean house and would be able to start and keep up with multiple hobbies. My husband even jokes at times that harnessing children’s energy could be a source of alternative energy…if we could just figure out how! Unfortunately, I am the 30-year-old mom who can barely keep up with these boys and that is considering both expel energy while at school.  We run around, play chase, throw the ball to the dog, practice Jedi moves, spin around, pretend mom is a helicopter and the boys are passengers and other energy-sucking activities.

One way that parents get their child to expel energy, build character, and, if lucky enough, develop talent is organized sports. There are many other good qualities found in this activity such as teamwork, interacting with peers, good sportsmanship, following directions and learning new skills. All around, I am an advocate for children playing organized sports.

As my husband is a huge sports fan, this was always a wish for our boys. However, we realized a while ago that some of Brody’s symptoms of autism would make organized sports difficult.

The last two years my son received numerous fliers sent home from the public school he attended. Even though he is in a special education class, the fliers were for every child that attended school. Naturally, I always looked at them and noticed the advertisement for extracurricular sporting activities. One of the reasons we originally sent our son to this particular public school was because about 20% of the students attending were in the special education program. We thought this would help him be around staff aware of these types of students and not treated differently, amongst other reasons. This thought did not translate to the after school sporting programs. None of the organizations that provided these activities could accommodate a child with special needs.  This was unfortunate because all that was needed for some, like Brody, was a bit of extra time, attention and understanding of some of the disabilities in order for these kids to take part.

After talking with staff at some organizations listed on the fliers that provide the after school programs, I sort of had a moment and formed this speech in my mind about equality. I thought to myself that every child has the right to go to an afterschool activity whether it is chess or Lego club and even sports. There are many events and activities children and teenagers with disabilities do not take part in but something like this should at least have the option for an alternative program. All that is needed is a little adaption by staff and the environment perhaps.

Well daily life and managing other aspects of Brody’s care meant I put my thoughts and wish for Brody to play sports on the backburner and focused on other things. Just the other day sports came back to my mind. I did a little search and found other options. I guess I was thinking too small before and did not do the searches needed. Both Autism Speaks and Autism Society have local links and list of organizations for a bunch of different needs. Autism Society has local chapters all over the U.S. Within each of their websites are information and resources. Organized sports were one area listed! For readers in Arizona, here is an example of what I could find:

Arizona Disabled Sports

http://arizonadisabledsports.com/

The Miracle Network of Arizona

http://www.mlaz.org/

Raising Arizona Kids – adaptive sports

http://www.raisingarizonakids.com/adaptive-sports/

For those outside Arizona, it seems a great resource can be your City’s website or even surrounding cities. The cost of many of the programs through the City is inexpensive.

In addition, a great resource can be the National Disability Sports Alliance

http://nationaldisabilitysportsalliance.webs.com/

What really touched me during my slight bit of research is the kindness and care of some of these organizations. The websites speak of that kindness though of course I have not met or talk with anyone. The people who work at these places and help make these events happen truly want kids and teenagers of all types to be able to have the opportunity to play sports. Not sure why I was touched by I read a quote on the Miracle League of Arizona’s website – “Every child deserves the change to play baseball.”

We might get Brody in the City program in an adaptive soccer league. We’ll see how it goes!

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