When he was a little guy?
As a lot of parents with kids on the autism spectrum know, team sports and their kids, well, they don’t always go together.
But they can go together, maybe just not as part of the typical team you first think of. But you already know by raising a child with autism that your child is teaching you to disregard typical and see there is more than one way to okay, and in doing so, you redefine not only normal, but also, what constitutes a team.
It must have been foreshadowing that in college I wore a pin that read, “Why be normal?”
One of the many “more than one way to okay” lessons Ted taught me was a team doesn’t have to be defined as a group of more than one person.
Because Ted was involved in a team sport – horseback riding - and a boy and a horse, working together, is indeed a team.
So here’s a plug for an activity designed specifically for our kids. And it doesn’t coddle them. No. Instead they learn to care for and work together with another living creature, while facing the physical challenges of riding a horse. There is also social interaction as they work with teachers and side-walkers who are usually volunteers and with our kids because they want to.
Ted participated in therapeutic horseback riding from kindergarten through 3rd grade. Non-traditional equestrian programs may not be as common as Little League but check out this website to see if there is a program in your area. Path International is the organization that accredited Ted’s local program. Look and see if there is a program in your area.
Because, YES, a child with autism CAN participate in a team sport!
Both these photos were taken when Ted was in 3rd grade. It was written in his IEP that year he would attend therapeutic horseback riding each Tuesday morning and would report to school at noon. Not at all happy he was in an emotionally conflicted self-contained classroom, I found some consolation he was out of that environment one morning a week. When the school situation worsened, not only did he get away from a negative situation, he got to be where he experienced support, encouragement, competition and success – blue ribbon style…