Today I’m participating in April Autism Blog Hop run by RJ Scott. She does a great job of really getting people together and putting a spotlight on autism, a condition that’s complex and varied, and sometimes difficult to put into words (this year nearly 50 people participating in this blog hop try, though).
First of all, one fact about autism:
Having autism is like having blue eyes or dark hair – it’s part of you.
It is a lifelong condition.
I want to talk with you about autism and sports. Partially because it relates to my book, but also because I was once a volunteer on a Special Olympics event and that was an incredible experience. Seeing kids compete, struggle, and be happy just to participate, was something that stayed with me for quite some time.
So, can people with autism play sports? What disciplines are best for them?
The answer, as with most – if not all – autism-related questions is: It depends.
Not every person with autism can compete, for various reasons. For example, team sports may be much more difficult than the disciplines depending only on individual work, like swimming, running, or horse riding, to name a few.
There are news-worthy success stories out there. Like Jessica-Jane Applegate, a young woman who, at the age of 16, won the gold medal at 2012 Summer Paralympics. Or Todd Hodgetts, who won a gold medal in the Men’s Shot Put F20 event at the same Games. Not everyone with autism can qualify for Paralympics, though. There are specific requirements that have to be met, including IQ of less than 75.
But Paralympics (or more frequent Special Olympics) aren’t – excuse a bad pun – the only game in town for people on autistic spectrum. There are accomplished marathon runners, like Jonathan Brunot, a New York City Marathon medal winner. There is a teen with black belt in tea kwon do. There is a high school basketball player who scored an astonishing 20 points, majority of those from a three point range, in four minutes of the game.
Not every story will get on the news. Not every person on autistic spectrum will be able to play. But the biggest giveaway for me is: you never know. Possibilities are always expanding, for each and every one of us.
I feel inspired! Do you? Comment and tell me what inspired you the most lately. You can win one of two copies of “Running Off the Edge”, my Winter Olympics love story.
The giveaway ends April 20th.
Edited: the winners of the giveaway are H.B. and Trix! Congratulations!
After the knee injury, Liam O’Connor, the former gold medalist, is no longer able to compete at the Olympics. He’s in Sochi as an assistant coach for another male figure skater and hopes to avoid Eric Lanney as much as possible.
Meanwhile Eric is back to compete for gold in pair skating, but is that the only thing that will be important to him? Maybe when the former lovers meet again in Russia, they will both learn that a gold medal isn’t the greatest prize you can win at the Winter Olympics.