Friday, June 17, 2011

What to do when a child with autism does not understand sports

They so desperately want to be included and it is gut wrenching to watch them try to play a game with neighborhood children.  You feel like screaming because your child is not included but at the same time you know exactly why the other kids are annoyed.  It is one of the symptoms of the disorder- your child does NOT understand teamwork- not truly any way.  Your child will be having great fun and the game is going well, then suddenly, your child takes the ball and is doing their own thing - not realizing that what they have done is not good or helpful.  When they realize that people are frustrated they often become defensive or angry because they think they were playing the game right.

Do you then forgo the games altogether?  This is really a tough decision-playing sports really is so good for them. It is terrible though, knowing that your child's behavior is the cause of the frustration for the other players.

We got very lucky.  One of our neighborhood kids LOVES to teach the games, he actually pretends to be a coach! That really does help, sure he gets frustrated and temporarily stops the game but he understands better than most of the other kids that Cutie wants to play and he honestly thinks his behaviors are helping.

So we have the physical teaching of the games covered, the big challenge though, is the team spirit and understanding about running off with the ball etc.  We have been doing social stories and yesterday we made a paper chain.

When we made the paper chain, we started with 2 rings, one on one chair, and then I asked Cutie to help me get the other to the other chair so that BOTH chairs were together.  Neither ring could reach alone.  He helped create new links until the chain reached from one chair to the other- together the links could do it!  We talked about more sport specific issues and at the end, we pretended the links were playing basketball and instead of passing the ball to the link in front of him, the middle link TOOK the ball to go and do his own thing- the whole thing came apart and Cutie GOT it!

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