Sports & Hi-Functioning ASD Kids: A Good Idea?

Lynn - posted on 05/24/2011 ( 11 moms have responded )

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When my son was diagnosed with semantic/pragmatic speech disorder, an ASD, he was told to stay away from sports b/c he wouldn't be good at it. But he was also told he needed speech, OT, and a SEIT because he was deficient in speech, fine motor skills, and social interaction. My mom and I joked that since he was going to be deficient in sports wouldn't it be helpful to give him more sports not less. To me it's like saying he's not good at speech so let's keep him away from talking or he's not good at social interaction so let's keep him away from people. Crazy, right? Or is it? That's what I want people to weigh in on. Why do the rules change when it comes to sports? My son is indifferent to sports and I've had him do a few free clinics of t-ball and soccer both of which he was below average. He excels at spelling, reading, and computer. Is good for him to also be exposed to something like sports where it doesn't come easy or am I just setting him up for failure?

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SomeRandomMother - posted on 06/02/2011

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Julie - If he enjoys track and his grades are low due to his diagnosis will they not make an allowance for him? Dude joined Run Club this year even though he did not meet some of the criteria. The guidance counselor went to bat for him and had the program coach realize that sometimes the importance of the opportunity outweighs need to follow strict standards. Dude is having a great time running with 'his team'

Just a suggestion.

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Adrienne - posted on 08/22/2011

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My son's speech therapist was very excited when we decided to enrol him in tae kwondo (which his older NT brother does). She swears that martial improves their self control and especially their listening skills. So if your son happens to like martial arts, maybe he would get an added benefit too.

Lynn - posted on 08/22/2011

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So, we signed my son up for soccer and I ended up taking him out because he would just wonder the field and although he never complained he was never interested in going. For the summer I signed him up for piano. I have never seen him so happy. He excelled at it and genuinely enjoyed it. He would practice on his own at home for hours. I also signed him up for Hip-hop dance class. He loved that, too and would come home and teach me the whole class. Our town offered an hour a day for a week tennis mini-camp which I signed him for. He did well with it, but again not super excited about it. My husband is really encouraging the sports and feels like it's so important to having him fit in. He thinks that if he is at least proficient enough to "play ball with guys" in a casual setting he will be much better off. So I found a special ed. sports class held at a local collage that pairs up varsity high school athletes with challenged kids like my son. I think it's perfect. The one-on-one attention is what he needs. My only concern is that our schedule only allow us to sign the kids up for activities on the weekends. My son already has speech, piano, and now sports—not to mention birthday parties, etc. He really wanted to continue the Hip-hop but I had to tell him no since daddy really wants him to do the sports and he has to many things already. He's so sweet he agreed. I just feel like we're not letting him be the artsy kid that is by pushing the sports. He's clearly not interested. But I do agree with my husband that if he's familiar with sports he won't have as much trouble relating to the kids who are. What does everyone else think. Does anyone have a child old enough to share a story about how encouraging sports affected your ASD child's social life?

Cindy - posted on 06/05/2011

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Look into the sports teams in your area. There may be a "Challenger" league. Here in FL my daughter participates on a baseball team that has other kids with autism, kids with down syndrome, blindness, and other disabilities. The theme is inclusion and acceptance. No one loses, everyone wins. We play other teams in the league. The physical activity is therapeutic and they get to play outside with amazing coaches and buddies.

Julie - posted on 06/02/2011

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@SomeRandomMother - I have not talked to his current school...he started high school last fall & showed the interest in jr. high. I will talk to him again & see if he is still interested. It might be too "dorky" for him at this point. ;) Unfortunately his school is not meeting my expectations for supporting his IEP. I am thinking about changing schools or trying an alternative high school - his grades are Ds and Fs & the schools just keep saying his test scores don't reflect a need! But his grades don't?! Anyhoo, thanks for the advice! =)

Julie - posted on 06/01/2011

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My son has PDD. I started him off in soccer and basketball. While he enjoyed the sports, he had a very difficult time socializing with team members and grasping the team effort. If a team member made a goal or basket, my son didn't feel like part of the team and would be disappointed that he did not make the point. When he got a little older, he pursued jr golf with the typical "pervasiveness" of PDD. He also enjoys skateboarding and has expressed an interest in track but the only program available is through his school and his grades have always been too low for him to participate. I tried a self defense class once, but his ADHD got in the way of him sitting still and concentrating while the instructor was teaching. Try a variety of things and check them off the list as you go. You're son will find his nitch! Good luck! =)

Bevely - posted on 05/26/2011

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It really just depends on the child. I put my son into soccer when he was 4, hoping it would burn off some energy and he could get some socialization and have a good male role model. Boy was I wrong. The coach was awesome, he had a teenage son with autism so he was experienced. Unfortunately, when my son became frustrated with teamates or himself he would lash out. He hit other players and during one game he just sat down in the field b/c no one would kick him the ball. So I figured, maybe put him into something that was more of a solo sport. So we put him in gymnastics, which he was awesome at since he is such a perfectionist. But he would get so upset if he didn't vault perfectly or cartwheel perfectly he would run off the mat screaming and crying. So we have abandonned sports.

Melissa - posted on 05/26/2011

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If he wants to try sports, let him! Team sports may not be his thing, and if that's the case, it's okay. Some individual performance sports to consider are: martial arts (sparring may be daunting, but infrequent, depending on which school you choose), golf, track, swimming, fencing, skiing, skating, bowling, or tennis.

Stacy - posted on 05/24/2011

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I would ask your son! If he's not good at it and doesn't like it, I wouldn't push it on him. No kid likes that. I agree with the PP - look for individual sports and let him try them. We signed DS up for tennis and swimming this summer, he's loved swimming in the past. Try a lot of different things, it sounds like soccer and t-ball are out.

SomeRandomMother - posted on 05/24/2011

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My Dude has difficulties with team sports so we started out by having him do things that were non competitive and not team based. He joined run club at school (ironic seeing as at the time he would often run away from school lol), swimming lessons, SCUBA lessons and hapkido. Recently he has expressed interest in joining a curling team so in the fall he's going to sign up for that too.

I think if your son is not super keen on sports then you should set him up for success by trying non competitive things. Swimming, archery, gymnastics and run clubs have been popular picks for friends with kids on The Spectrum. Dude has also started Equine Therapy, horseback riding and would like to take agility training with his new dog.

I think its important to think outside of the box when it comes to getting kids with ASD to try new things.

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