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Tools of Ignorance
06-09-2006, 05:56 PM
My son is playing his first year of kid pitch in a Columbus suburb. He plays on a team of really good players. They are beating the snot out of the other teams, and are almost all third graders (just finished) in a league of 3rd and 4th graders.

My son has Asperger's which is a mild form of Autism. He is a pretty poor player, and uncoordinated. He can actually hit decently, but runs incredibly dorky and slow, fields poorly, throws like a girl (sorry about the statement, but I wanted to give the view), and just doesn't get the basics of the game. He doesn't know when to run or hold on a base, or what base to throw to. Some of the other players on his own team have started laughing and making fun of him. Particularly, two of the best players on the team are doing this including the coaches son. The coach is a decent guy, and admonishes them occasionally, but he doesn't go the extra mile to stop it. Confounding the issue is that we tell no one of his true problem. He has enough issues, without people ostracizing him because of his diagnosis. He is quite smart, does well at school, and is mostly well liked by his school mates. We took him out of the public schools and put him in an exclusive private school. We did this so that he would get more individual instruction (10:1 student to teacher in the classroom vs 24:1 in the public schools). He does well in this school, but a number of parents from the old school are upset that we "abandoned" the public school. He plays baseball with the kids he went to public school with, and this is really his last tie to that group. He really likes these kids, and wants to play ball with them. His condition makes it so that he doesn't really get that the others are making fun of him. He wants to continue playing, and so far hasn't said he is upset about this behavior.

My instinct is to go to the coach and complain, but I don't think it will be in my son's best interest. I don't think the behavior will stop, but only go underground and be even harder on my son. If I fly of the handle, yell, chastise, or anything of the sort, I don't see it going well.

Any help?

vaticanplum
06-09-2006, 06:04 PM
Is your son's coach reasonable? I would certainly hope so, if he is a coach. If so, I would go and talk to him. Even if your son can't understand what's going on, it would be in the best interest of all the kids to learn that they and their parents are behaving like idiots before it's too late. Keep it calm and use all the correct argument approaches ("I feel like...." rather than "these imbeciles...")

Bear in mind that I'm not a parent, and I'm not familiar with the politics of Little League, and I generally think that parents should let their kids fight their own battles. But it sounds like your son isn't quite capable of doing that, and if something isn't said or done, his feelings could end up being very hurt and the kids will be more idiotic than ever. A true coach of children takes on this stuff as part of his job. It's not all about winning at this level; it's about teaching kids about competition, self-esteem and sportsmanship, so the coach dealing with this in an appropriate matter seems not only acceptable but called for.

Tools of Ignorance
06-09-2006, 06:17 PM
Part of the problem is the culture of the affluent suburb. Success is rewarded to a huge extent. Being a jerk (as a child or adult) is tolerated if you are doing great. I really like the coach, but feel that he has some bias towards providing a successful team, and is willing to deal with garbage from his best players to acheive this. I think if he really hit hard on his best players, that the other players and parents would hold it against my son and my family.

The pathetic thing is that if he were on the crappy team we played last night, he would be the norm and not the exception.

While I agree about your assessment of coaching in an altruistic society, the role of coach in this setting is really a social standing type deal. Believe me, this keeps me up at nights. I want the best for my son. In my interests, the best would be to quit the team and not deal with the problems. However, he really wants to play and be a part of this team of kids. The social interaction is also really important for him.

Man, I want to be Jim Carrey in God Almighty.

David Cubbedge
06-09-2006, 06:27 PM
As a Little League coach, I can tell you that most coaches do not last unless they have some kind of good repetoire with the parents. I am sure the coach enjoys winning the games. And if this team is beating the tar out of everyone, he may have a lot more time on his hands to teach your son on a 1 on 1 basis vs going over all the same drills that the team is likely growing tired of.
As a coach, I find it to be a whole lot more helpful when a parent can tell me what his son has expressed interest in learning about the game. This coach should be no different. As vatican stated, he should not be a coach if he can't handle a parent's concern about their son.
I would understand brushing off concern of a child not being able to play exactly where he wants every game. But this coach has a duty to the parents to instruct them to be a ballplayer. That goes with the professionalism involved as well. I know that is a big word for 3rd graders to comply to. But it is a part of life to be courteous toward others. And having fun and learning the game of baseball should be fun for everyone involved.
If I were you, I would honestly tell the coach about your son's condition and let him know that he has to address the team in order for the laughing to cease. The coach is supposed to know how he would approach that situation and should be able to handle it on a professional level without making a mocary of the whole thing and without having to tell the rest of the kids about your son's condition.
I guess the worst part about this situation is that the coach has not stopped the whole thing on his own. Which could make you feel like he is not one to take care of business. But someone who cares about teaching the game of baseball should have the deasancy to address a serious concern as this. afterall, this is supposed to be a fun and big part of a child's life. And if the coach doesn't see it that way, then he shouldn't be a coach.

Tools of Ignorance
06-09-2006, 06:49 PM
That's great advice, but I just don't trust this information not being broadcast to everyone. There is a big social agenda here. The coach, many of the parents, and my family all socialize together at a club for swimming and tennis here.

Would you want your daughter dating someone with autism? Once the cat is out of the bag, his social life is in ruins. Fingers would point, and parents would tell their children to avoid him. He is really one of these fringe kids. He can pass as OK, but an athletic wreck. He actually won the presidential fitness award! He can excell, but in a team social situation seems to fall apart. He does well at school. He may be the next Bill Gates (He really has that inquisitive and creative a mind, and his teachers at his new school think he is outstanding. His teachers at his old school complained that he didn't fit the mold. And this was at one of the best public elementary schools in the entire metropolis.)

I have thought of moving to get away from these scenarios, but anywhere he went, the problems would follow.

I am incredibly thankful that my education and job give me the financial resources to do whatever it takes.

dfs
06-09-2006, 09:54 PM
Would you want your daughter dating someone with autism? Once the cat is out of the bag, his social life is in ruins.

First of all I want to let you know I sympathize with you. Good luck with your boy.

I think you need to get a handle on how you feel about your son's diagnosis. You can't hide your son's problems AND expect special treatment from others.

That aside, and it's a different problem from this one, I found the best quality coaches/teachers/instructive/mentors for my children usually tought them the best regardless of what the activity was. If the coach has not observed the behavior of his "stars," he's not paying enough attention. If the coach has observed the behavior of his "stars" and has not taken corrective action, he's a putz. Find a better class of coach/teacher/instructor/mentor for your boy, even if it isn't in baseball.

Tools of Ignorance
06-09-2006, 10:46 PM
I understand. Believe me, his problems are not hidden from others. Only putting a label on him is hidden. I grew up with a handicapped brother, so I know how much people can be putzes. That is why I am a doctor, to take care of and help children with serious problems. That is what I do every day. Perhaps this is why I take this so personally. The other day, I did a procedure on a child with a serious medical problem who was bleeding to death. I stopped the bleeding and saved his life. Then I went to my son's baseball game and watched these priveleged children make fun of him for running goofy.

I expect people to look at each individual child, understand their obvious strengths and weaknesses, and not let others prey on them. And then teach it to their children. Particularly, children who are born to privilege, and who are blessed with gifts such as athletic prowess.

I have looked for and found excellent teachers for him in many fields. But he wants to play baseball, with these kids he considers his friends.

George Foster
06-09-2006, 11:35 PM
Hey TOI:

First you need to be honest with yourself and answer the question. Does my son really want to play ball or does he just want to please me? Most sons will walk through fire for their fathers. They crave your love and acceptance. If he knows you are a big baseball fan he may just want to please you...you are his dad...his hero. If the answer to the above question is: He is playing ball for me...you know what you have to do.

If the answer to the above question is: He really likes baseball. Well you need to teach baseball in a way he can learn it. You said he excels in the classroom. Set down with him everynight and teach baseball with pen and paper. Ask him questions. Draw out a baseball dimond and ask him if he's batting were does he run? etc There are a lot of general questions like that one you can ask. Make up flash cards. Go out in the yard and apply what he has learned. repetition. I also think one of the best ways to learn the game is to watch it on TV. I learned the game watching all of those Braves games on WTBS in the 80's. Only 20-30 Reds games on a year, I had to watch the Braves. Those hours along with good announcers tought me alot.

He needs major instruction. Find out who your High School baseball coach is. Ask him if there is a player on his team that would like to earn some extra money over the summer and help your kid. 2 hours a day. $10 bucks an hour. You can help his coordination by running drills in the back yard. Tires, pylons etc.

Another questions is "Do you really feel he can improve?" If he can, it will take a lot of hours and hard work. You two will get to spend a lot of quality time together. In your heart of hearts you feel he really can't improve much, do you still want to put him in a position to fail? This will hurt his self esteem, something he will battle with throughout his childhood. Remember, the kids he is playing with will improve every year.

I know alot about kids making fun of you. I have been a severe stutterer my whole life. My parents did not shelter me but they did not put me in a position to fail either. They pulled me from public school in the 3rd grade. It was the greatest gift they could have ever given me. They also put me in positions to excel, like sports and the classroom. Knocking doubles off the walls shuts up the st-st-st-stuttering jokes. Kicking butt in the classroom just makes them make fun of you behind your back, but it shuts them up in front of you anyway. Having a network of friends I met in private school who came from 2 parent homes and were taught manners...gave me self esteem. I was not constantly being made fun of. When I went to High School it was tuff. Excelling in sports helped to make guy friends. Singing in the school chorus helped to meet girls, but I still got made fun of, but I had enough self confidence to let it pass. The foundation for this self confidence was built in private school. That was a very good move by you and your wife. Make sure the private school is not to big however...it ruins the point of pulling him from public school. To many clicks, etc.

I'm now a dentist, two kids, and a great wife...still stuttering. What are those punks, who made fun of me doing right now?

I really hope this helps...you are a great father by just being concerned so much about your son...he's lucky...just like I was.

SandyD
06-10-2006, 12:05 AM
Private coaching may be a good option. Also, you need to find out if your son really wants to play baseball with these kids, or if he just wants to play with these kids.

Tools of Ignorance
06-10-2006, 12:12 AM
Well, I know he wants to play baseball. And I know if it isn't baseball, lacrosse, or soccer, he won't be playing with these kids. His soccer career has ended well before the World Cup. He doesn't like contact ruling out lacrosse. Baseball is it.

I will support him no matter what. That is not the issue. His baseball career is quite limited, I just don't think quitting because some kids are jerks is quite acceptable.

Benny-Distefano
06-11-2006, 01:38 AM
Private coaching is the answer...aspergers or no aspergers.

How old do you think Ken Griffey Jr was when he went to his first baseball "clinic?" Its instruction away from gameday that separates the starters from the bench.

My advice? Tough out the season. Say nothing to the coach or other players. Then, since you mentioned money is no object, if baseball is important to your son, then sign him up for a few hitting/fielding/etc baseball clinics, He WILL get better.

Then, next season, the only thing people will be talking about, is how much your son has improved.

Good luck to you, sir.

GAC
06-11-2006, 07:10 AM
My son is playing his first year of kid pitch in a Columbus suburb. He plays on a team of really good players. They are beating the snot out of the other teams, and are almost all third graders (just finished) in a league of 3rd and 4th graders.

My son has Asperger's which is a mild form of Autism. He is a pretty poor player, and uncoordinated. He can actually hit decently, but runs incredibly dorky and slow, fields poorly, throws like a girl (sorry about the statement, but I wanted to give the view), and just doesn't get the basics of the game. He doesn't know when to run or hold on a base, or what base to throw to. Some of the other players on his own team have started laughing and making fun of him. Particularly, two of the best players on the team are doing this including the coaches son. The coach is a decent guy, and admonishes them occasionally, but he doesn't go the extra mile to stop it. Confounding the issue is that we tell no one of his true problem. He has enough issues, without people ostracizing him because of his diagnosis. He is quite smart, does well at school, and is mostly well liked by his school mates. We took him out of the public schools and put him in an exclusive private school. We did this so that he would get more individual instruction (10:1 student to teacher in the classroom vs 24:1 in the public schools). He does well in this school, but a number of parents from the old school are upset that we "abandoned" the public school. He plays baseball with the kids he went to public school with, and this is really his last tie to that group. He really likes these kids, and wants to play ball with them. His condition makes it so that he doesn't really get that the others are making fun of him. He wants to continue playing, and so far hasn't said he is upset about this behavior.

My instinct is to go to the coach and complain, but I don't think it will be in my son's best interest. I don't think the behavior will stop, but only go underground and be even harder on my son. If I fly of the handle, yell, chastise, or anything of the sort, I don't see it going well.

Any help?

I first want you to know that I deeply sympathize with you and your son. My son, who is now 17, has Aspergers (which yes, falls into the autism classification).

My son, after trying when he was younger, gave up on sports because of his poor gross motor skills and "clumsiness", which is simply a characteristic of Aspergers Syndrome. And while I tried to encourage him to continue, I didn't force it, and have always supported him.

The problem is that Aspergers is still largely unknown to so many (especially within our school systems). School admins (teachers, guidance couselors, etc) really don't know how to fully address it and meet these kid's needs because they themselves don't understand this disorder. Over the years, by doing the research first myself (for the benefit of my son), I've made the effort, by offering books and tapes, to school personnel on Aspergers in order to help them better understand it. How can they educate my son when they don't understand his condition?

Tony Attwood, IMO, has some of the best materials for the "layperson" on Aspergers...

http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1885477708&id=7xvAUhjMKecC&pg=PT8&lpg=PT8&dq=Tony+on+Aspergers&sig=tfjHhXOuP9ketft_EwVicZ9CNn8

I have coached coach's pitch, little league, and also girl's 14 yr olds. Coaches need to understand that the game is for ALL the kids, and their benefit, and is not about winning.

There is way too much competiveness at that level, and over emphasis on winning - which leaves alot of kids behind. I know, because I see it.

And a child with Aspergers, who not only has poor gross motor skills, but also struggles with memory retention/cognitive abilities is gonna have a rough time "fitting in" and playing sports. Impossible? No. But it takes educating parents -and that includes the coaches and parents on the team so that they are aware of your child's situation.

I know you have said you don't necessarily want to reveal this to everyone - but you really need to in order to help them ALL understand your child's condition. Think of you child right now, and put him first, and not how you might think some will react.

You canot sit on the "sidelines" and worry about what some may think.

If you, as a parent, do not make the effort, then no one else will for your son.

educate, educate, educate. ;)

Sit down and talk with them as a group. You'll find that most parents will be more then supportive and really want to help/get behind that child and encourage them as if they were their own, once the know what is going on. I know that was our experience.

Marge'sMullet
06-11-2006, 10:37 AM
Well, I know he wants to play baseball. And I know if it isn't baseball, lacrosse, or soccer, he won't be playing with these kids. His soccer career has ended well before the World Cup. He doesn't like contact ruling out lacrosse. Baseball is it.

I will support him no matter what. That is not the issue. His baseball career is quite limited, I just don't think quitting because some kids are jerks is quite acceptable.


Tools of Ignorance,

You are RIGHT Quitting because some kids are jerks is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

IMO, I think some of you are missing the mark as far as competition. Winning is important and doing well at something is more important to a child self esteem then be labeled different because of a medical condition. Do you think that kids want to be different and looked at as someone who needs special help or leeway in order to compete in the same game? I would say, NO, they would be better server to overcome any short coming that they might have and succeed.

I would say to the coach and parents in a matter of fact way. Like “My child has Asperger, which is a form of Autism. We are working with him and want him to succeed despite this.” They will get it.


If you really want to help your son then teach him about the game, if you don't think that you have the knowledge then take him to games and watch as much baseball on TV that you possible can this summer. Talk about different situations in the game and what players do. Have him learn the cerebral aspects of the game, then learn how to use them in game type situations. You said that your kid is smart, so this should be easy for him to get the basics.

You say that your kid is uncoordinated, runs incredibly dorky and slow, fields poorly, throws like a girl, doesn’t get the basics and has base running errors.

I would say that the base running problem is probably the biggest problem at the 3rd grade level. Then I would work on the fielding and throwing aspects. Hopefully the running dorky and slow aspect will work it self out once he knows what to do on the base paths.

A lot of a child’s esteem is generated by how well they do in competition with other kids when they are growing up. Kids compare themselves on physical aspects like sports more than they do other areas of life. I doubt that they compare report cards; rather they might compare batting avg.

If I take my self back to when I was a kid I remember that summer time was play time. Above going to baseball practice and playing in little league, I went to baseball clinics for free through our town’s recreation department. (We didn’t have money for paid clinics, and I knew that so I didn’t ask) I played every day in competition with my brothers and friends. We competed in everything sports, card and board games, and games that we made up too. I was lucky to have older brothers that would push me to play better and be more competitive.

When I was a kid and we played back yard games of baseball or homerun derby or pickle and if there was a kid there that didn’t perform well enough and couldn’t compete with us because of age or skill or knowledge of the game we would say “DC”, for “Doesn’t Count”. Meaning if that kid game up to bat, then we said “DC” we would let the kid go through the motions and try, but his run or out didn’t count as far as the outcome of the game. Usually that kid would get out anyway and that didn’t count either. I know it sounds cruel, but they didn’t know that they were “DC”, they didn’t even know what “DC” meant. After awhile the competitive kids knew that and we didn’t even have to say “DC”. Don’t let your kid become a “DC”.

So if you really want to help your son, try and make sports and games more serious to him. I think that the trap that a lot of parents fall into is that they view it only as a game to have fun. Participation alone isn’t the answer. Participation as well as success is the key to developing a well rounded and healthy personality in a child. Winning and performing well and above the rest will do more for a child self esteem then just showing up and participating. Winning is fun. Being good at something that you do is fun. Getting made fun of by your peers isn’t fun. It breeds contentment and resentment for you, him and his peers.

Blimpie
06-11-2006, 10:59 AM
This is what I tell the Little League players whom I coach: It takes all kinds of players to make a team. There are two ways a coach can coach--they can coach to win games or they can coach to teach the game. Sounds like your son's coach is the former. I aspire to be the latter but, alas, as my boy moves up from league to league with age, I find myself to be the exception and not the rule.

When players reach your son's age, most coaches try to define that level of competition as a "weeding out" age. There is some truth to that mindset. The fact is that if a player is going to quit playing the game of baseball for other interests (swimming, basketball, etc..) that decision will likely be made when that person first begins to face live pitching from an opposing player (not their own coach). That's simply the facts of Little League attrition and it is essentially a natural progression of growing up.

My whole problem with your team's scenario is that certain teammates (and coaches) seem to be trying to expedite your son's departure from the game in order to satisfy their own comfort levels. That should not be tolerated. Whether or not his teammates know your son has a disability is of no consequence in this matter. If your son WANTS to be on the field, he has a right to be there. On a personal note, I have a niece with Aspergers who plays competitive soccer and rides horses. I also have a nephew who is more profoundly autistic and plays baseball and basketball. Depending upon the degree of disability, one can always find the proper home for competitve sports. Let me give you an example:

My baseball league (South Lexington Youth Baseball) is affiliated and plays under the guidelines of Cal Ripken baseball. Needless to say, they take the game seriously on those ball fields. However, in about four weeks, the park is soon to unveil a brand new special baseball field at our ballpark built specifically for the Miracle League. This field will be made of a special surface (like a running track) to facilitate movement by wheelchair athletes. Literally anybody--with any type of disability--will be welcome to come on the field to play. Fields like this one are so scarce, that people will be traveling as much as six hours by car simply to come play on it.

Here's my point: This field isn't going to be pushed away somewhere to be forgotten. It is the crown jewel in an entire park-wide remodeling campaign. It will be situated directly in front of our brand new concession stand and handicapped accessible bathrooms. All of the other Cal Ripken Little League fields will be surrounding this Miracle League field and players of every ability level will get to watch each other play on a daily basis.

Hope things get better for your son very soon! God bless.

Yachtzee
06-11-2006, 12:24 PM
Hey TOI, I sympathize with you and I think GAC has some great advice.

My personal feeling is that if the kids are jerks and their parents aren't doing anything to correct it, maybe those kids aren't the ones you want your son to be around. I would say that even if your son was one of the stars. And in today's highly mobile society, there's no guarantee that these kids are going to be around for long anyway. Since your son really likes baseball, maybe you could get to know some of the other coaches and parents in the area. Maybe if you see kids on other team who might have the same issues, you could discuss things discretely to see if they have some of the same issues. Ultimately, you may be able to find a team with a coach, kids, and parents who might be more understanding. In the long run, your son might be happier hanging out with kids who want to include him.

On a side note, my brother, although he hasn't been diagnosed with anything, had much of the similar traits you described when he was a kid. He ended up quitting organized ball, and much preferred to play his own games by himself in the backyard. He even kept his own stats for each of the teams in his "league." He still throws like a girl, but he's great when it comes to fantasy baseball. And for all his lack of coordination as a kid, he's become quite adept at beating me at golf.

danwl
06-11-2006, 03:27 PM
My son is the same age as your boy, and I help coach his little league team. They are a very good team, and a number of the kids are very good players. I am the third coach on this team; that is, our league allows teams to protect the manager's kid and one coach's kid, and I am not either of those coaches. I managed my son's machine-pitch team last year, but like to assistant-coach for a year in a new league if I can swing it. As a result, I am the dugout coach, or what I like to call the Mommy Coach.

We have poor players on our team. For example, one kid, bless his heart, is league age 11 (one of two 11 year olds in the league). He has an almost pathological fear of being hit with the ball and is rarely in the batters' box when the ball gets there. As a coach, I will not put up with comments that are overly discouraging. My strategy is usually to take the two or three best players aside sometime, emphasize their leadership role, and that they are setting an example for the rest of their teammatges. I tell them they need to step up in leaders by encouraging their teammates, not discouraging them. This age kid will respond to that. "We need everybody on this team to contribute, and x kid needs to be encouraged to contribute, etc."

Maybe you need to find the Mommy Coach on your team, rather than looking to the manager. It is hard for some coaches to deal with this issue, because the snide kids are, in fact, also only 9 years old, and really can't be expected to be as mature as grownups. Also the coaches often have a lot of other stuff to deal with and don't see everything, and they almost surely don't see the worst stuff, which is usually outside their immediate presence, whereas you are trained on your kid all the time. Kids at this age, even the best players, have their own insecurities and issues, a lot of which come out when there is an easy target. This is true of one kid on my team who I believe is the best player in the league. We want those kids to understand their role and be big enough to encourage rather than discourage, and a lot of time, they're not gonna get there on their own without help.

So my first suggestion is to see if there is a Mommy Coach who is locked in to the dynamics of the team. Sometimes a well-placed comment or two from this person will reduce the ribbing.

The other strategy might be to talk to the manager. Don't think of this as complaining to the manager. Hit him where he lives. Say, look, I know little Jimmy isn't the best player, and I'd like help him improve. Do you have any suggestions for things I can work on with him? I was thinking of ... (fill in any number of the fine suggestions given above, like working through situations on a piece of paper, maybe a video game - Backyard Baseball is fun, etc.). Oh, and also, little Jimmy really gets down on himself when his teammates get on him for mistakes. I think he might be able to focus better if he got a little more encouragement from his peers.

Sounds like this isn't true, but who cares. This is the language the manager speaks. He can sell "we are a team, we need to play like a team and encourage each other so we can all be our best." He can't sell "Don't be mean to the dorky kid."

I don't see any reason to place a label on the kid as explanation for his play. It's a manager, not an MD. It is no secret that there is some issue, whether it is "just" a coordination problem or "just" a focus problem, or those problems because of some underlying condition, doesn't matter at all to the manager. If he cares at all, it is about how to solve the problem (hence your request for how you can help little Jimmy at home). It's not like he's gonna say, oh, an Asperger's kid, why didn't you say so before; I know just how to change my approach to work with him.

If this doesn't work and the negativity can't be controlled, I think those are not the right kids for little Jimmy to be around. Doesn't matter if little Jimmy wants to or not; you are the parent and you gotta call 'em like you see 'em. You have already made this call on schooling. I agree best case is for it to work out, but if it doesn't work out, Plan B is to find better kids. Maybe you can play out of district, or talk to other parents about other managers with a better approach. That might change everything. Manager's kid is usually the best player, or one of them; while the manager's coaching matters, his parenting matters more in this respect - if he raised his kid to be a good kid and his kid encourages instead of discourages, the other players will fall in line.

The sociological dynamics of a little league team are interesting and finely balanced. A single comment from a high-prestige kid either protecting or attacking your kid could either insulate that kid for the rest of the year or open him up as fair game. There is an interesting book called With the Boys, written by I think Gary Alan Fine, about the sociology of the little league dugout. It is a little dated and with Major level kids, but still an interesting read. Maybe someone has updated work on the topic since, don't know.

Best of luck.

GAC
06-11-2006, 08:58 PM
Tools of Ignorance,

You are RIGHT Quitting because some kids are jerks is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

IMO, I think some of you are missing the mark as far as competition. Winning is important and doing well at something is more important to a child self esteem then be labeled different because of a medical condition.

It's not about being labelled - it's about educating people. His son is being labelled out of ignorance to his condition. You educate the coaching staff and parents, and they, in turn should talk with the kids.

Telling (and teaching) your son to QUIT is not a good lesson to be teaching him as he grows into adulthood. Quitting adds to, and complicates, the insecurities these kids already have.

And quitting because some kids are jerks is definitely not the way to go - what message does that send you kid as you prepare them for adulthood? It's not going to get any easier then when they are in the real world.

I've seen two instances in our league over the last couple of years where the parents, coaching staff, and yes, even the kids, rallied around a child and really helped them to fit in and feel wanted when they were educated and asked to get involved. They responded.

I had a friend last year who had a son (11) who LOVES baseball, but because he has a disease of the bones that will put him in a wheelchair by the time he is in his mid-20's he sat on the sidelines with that look that told everyone he wanted to participate, but was fearful to because of his condition. The disease, which caused him to have very poor gross motor skills, and well as causing him to lose the sight in one of his eyes, also created his insecurities.

We can't cure the disease - but we can do something about the insecurities. ;)

He'd come to our practices and watch, and one could tell he wanted to play really bad. I let him participate, and the following year got him on a team.

Yes, he was a terrible ballplayer. But the coaching staff and parents, once they learned of his condition, really became attached to this boy. Just being out there for 1 or 2 innings and getting a chance to participate brought such joy to this child. They, and the coaches/parents could care less if this kid struck out or misplayed a baseball once they saw the joy it brought the child.

He went from bring an outsider, to being an insider. That is all he wanted.


Do you think that kids want to be different and looked at as someone who needs special help or leeway in order to compete in the same game? I would say, NO, they would be better server to overcome any short coming that they might have and succeed.

They can't completely overcome what you define as "shortcomings". No more then a child with autism or down syndrome can overcome theirs. These are "special needs" children who have a disability.

Competing TO THEM is secondary. They want to interact, feel acceptance FOR WHO THEY ARE, and to fit in.

His son doesn't need to change (he can't). Those around him though can change (attitude). ;)


So if you really want to help your son, try and make sports and games more serious to him. I think that the trap that a lot of parents fall into is that they view it only as a game to have fun.

No - the trap that many parents fall into is that winning always translates into success, and that failure is totally unacceptable. It doesn't.

For a child it is only a game to have fun. It is about fitting, participating, and more importantly - ACCEPTANCE. Winning at that age is secondary, and any coach worth his salt will tell you that.


Participation alone isn’t the answer

Respectfully - yes it is is. You need to research the characteristics of Aspergers. One of the main problems with Asperger children is interaction with their peers, and being able to "fit in" and aptly communicate themselves.


Winning and performing well and above the rest will do more for a child self esteem then just showing up and participating.

Maybe, with a "average" child. But you are placing a "burden" or hill before an Asperger child that an average child doesnt have to face. And if they fail, will cause further withdrawal and damage to their self-esteem.

Success is not always defines as winning alone.

I have never made excuses for my son, and also push him when I, as a parent, see it is needed. I don't allow his "disability" to be an excuse to not try or to fail. But one must still understand the boundaries and limitations also involved.

I just simply speak from experience. Being accepted by your peers is far more profitable/beneficial to an Asperger child, who get to know and understand their disorder. I've seen it work.

vaticanplum
06-11-2006, 09:18 PM
This thread is kinda making me teary. Heck, just print it out and take it to the coach.

SandyD
06-11-2006, 09:27 PM
GAC, unfortunately, I'm not sure it works in all social groups/settings. I can understand TOI's concerns, and frankly, I hate labels. By the same token, in an ideal world, I agree that having the discussion with the parents/coaches is the best way to go. Only TOI can decide if it can work for his family.

I like the idea of private coaching really because it can help him with his motor skills, and because he will learn what it means to work for what you want. But it would take the right coach to do the job. Maybe a fitness consultant with a background in/passion for baseball.

TOI, do you think you can keep the label private from the rest of his youth/teenage years? I'm just curious. Kids can be cruel, and increasingly so over time. Especially when they don't understand the situation.

Wish you and your son the best.

Chip R
06-11-2006, 11:14 PM
TOI, forst of all I deeply sympathise with your situation. I do not mean this to sound cold but I think the best interests of the child should outweigh the interests of the parent(s). It is truly sad the other kids make fun of him because of his lack of physical skills but if he does not mind and he enjoys playing with these kids, I think you have to let him whether the coach does anything or not. I agree with you about not wanting to hurt him socially by revealing his condition. You may have to go through some heartache for a while in order to not reveal his condition. If you say too much to the coach he may start to get suspicious and wonder why. Now you might want to do some research into situations similar to yours and see what they have done as far as revealing his condition goes.

Kids can be cruel. We all know that. They always pick on the kids who shows some differences from the norm whether he is overweight, wears glasses, dresses funny, whatever. But in a way that is a form of acceptance. If the other kids like him outside of baseball, then it may not be that big of a problem. I am not saying that those kids making fun of your boy is right but it seems to be hurting you more than it is hurting him. Now if he knew he was being made fun of and it was really bothering him, that would be a whole other thing. But he seems happy and that is all that should matter.

You might want to do some more research into kids with that condition and decide if private lessons can help his motor skills or if it would be a waste of time and money. The skull sessions may be a good idea as long as they are not overdone and he likes them. Presenting it in a form that he has excelled with is a good idea too. You say he hits the ball decently. If he wants to continue with athletics, perhaps golf would be something he could do. If he can hit a moving ball, he might be able to hit a ball that is sitting still. It is an individual sport so he does not have to worry about teammates hollering at him for making a bad shot. It seems like you are well off and live in a good area so access to a golf course and lessons would not be a problem. If you golf yourself, when he learns to play you can take him out and play together and it would be a nice father son thing to do. Good luck whatever you decide.

Blimpie
06-11-2006, 11:36 PM
This thread is kinda making me teary. Heck, just print it out and take it to the coach.:clap:

GAC
06-12-2006, 08:56 AM
GAC, unfortunately, I'm not sure it works in all social groups/settings. I can understand TOI's concerns, and frankly, I hate labels. By the same token, in an ideal world, I agree that having the discussion with the parents/coaches is the best way to go. Only TOI can decide if it can work for his family.

I like the idea of private coaching really because it can help him with his motor skills, and because he will learn what it means to work for what you want. But it would take the right coach to do the job. Maybe a fitness consultant with a background in/passion for baseball.

TOI, do you think you can keep the label private from the rest of his youth/teenage years? I'm just curious. Kids can be cruel, and increasingly so over time. Especially when they don't understand the situation.

Wish you and your son the best.

I agree with private coaching Sandy to help the child. But we talking about a neurological disorder that greatly retards gross motor skills (among other things). And who, besides the parent, can afford to spend/sacrifice that much time (and it is gonna take alot of time and patience) to help his son get ready for the season?

I'm not saying the sacrifice shouldn't be made - just be prepared for a long, tenuous, and very trying sessions, because its not only poor motor skills, but also a combination of cognizant abilities.

And even then, Adam Dunn would still look like a GGer. ;)

Here is a question that I asked myself concerning my son playing little league....

Am I wanting him to play because I played? Is it more for my benefit then my child's? Am I really putting the pressure on him, and forcing him to do something that he really doesn't want to do, but it's more to soothe my ego?

I believe in making your child try new and different things in order to see what their interests are. But one can only push them so far before they realize this is not for my child.

And that is where solid and sincere parent-child communication must come in.

If you see that the child really wants to play and interact with the other kids (and that is really what it's all about) - then I agree that you, as a parent, must really help that child privately (backyard, taking them down to the field, etc).

But you still should, IMO, have a heart-to-heart with the coach(es) and educate them on your son's condition. I believe the coaches and other parents, once they learn his situation, will embrace that child as their own. And they will also deal with their children who may feel tempted to tease/ridicule them.

And that, in and of itself, is a great lesson for children when they encounter someome who is different.

But I agree that TOI has some tough decisions to make concerning dealing with his Asperger child. I've had to make them for the last 10 years.

But my decisions always came down to - what is best/beneficial for my child in the long run, and not me.

Maybe even try to build relationships with those kids your son does interact with, and play some sandlot(backyard) baseball.... and get all the kids involved in helping to teach your son. Take them all to DQ or McDonalds afterwards and act as that "mentor" to build that trust and relationship with those kids, while it takes the pressure off of your son as they get to know him. I think they would become more understanding and sensitive when it's all said and done. You're then not only building up his baseball skills, but also relationship bonding with the other kids. ;)

smith288
06-12-2006, 12:21 PM
I think those players making fun of your son needs a beatdown... but thats just me.

JK. What I think needs to be done would be for you to communicate with the coach about your son's condition. If you think he is a good guy and stuff, he would understand. Also, kids are funny... If people treat them like people instead of talking animals, they behanve like people rather than little talking animals.

What im saying is if these kids are sat down (seperate from yours) and told exactly the reasons for your sons akwardness, etc, they might behave a little more understanding rather than using ignorance as their only resource for the ridicule.

Thats my opinion. We have a kid with downs on my tball team and everyone is very understanding of his condition and they NEVER ridicule him.

Tools of Ignorance
06-13-2006, 07:51 PM
I greatly appreciate all of your responses. I also thank those who PM'ed me about this issue.

My one huge question is: Does anyone in Columbus know where to get some private instruction? I have called around, but it seems they do groups, or only older kids.

To clarify some things....

He wants to play. It would be easier for me if he quit. There is no "Daddy" agenda here.

His doctors advise heavily against telling people about his diagnosis. It doesn't change what his weaknesses are, but only gives something to discriminate against. Besides, is it OK to bully and discriminate against someone just because the don't have a named problem? Is is OK to trip someone on crutches or laugh at them unless you know they had polio or spina bifida? Is it OK to bully and make fun of a poor athlete unless they have some known problem such as Down's or Asperger's? Of course not.

Part of the reason my child's doctors (pediatric psychologists and psychiatrists) advice us this way, is that he is really such a fringe kid. He will live his life in a "normal" environment. He will go to college, get a job, and hopefully have a social life and family like a "normal" kid. Only goofier. Labelling him (according to these experts) gives him absolutely no advantage. So telling the coach the true issue, is counterproductive (according to the experts).

Deepred05
06-13-2006, 08:30 PM
Sometimes coaches need to be reminded why they are there. Not an easy task, considering most of the parents I encountered were out for blood.
I had a similar situation while coaching, a very small kid wanted to quit my team because his teammates picked on him.

After his parents approached me, I felt very guilty because I realized that I was neglecting some of the kids on the team for my own selfish reasons. Long story short, I spent "extra time" after every practice with any of the kids who wanted it. I put the kid in situations where I knew he had the best chance of succeeding. (weaker pitchers, pinch running..........)

He never did grow that much, but he turned out to be a pretty good little ballplayer, starting second baseman for his high school team......

SandyD
06-13-2006, 08:59 PM
TOI, do you have connections at OSU? Seems like a grad student might be interested in making some extra money. Wouldn't really take a professional coach.

If you can't find a coach, maybe try to do it yourself. Or with others in your family. Could be fun (and healthy) for everyone. There are books out there with drills, and videos/DVDs.

Good luck with it all, and let us know how you all do.

Tools of Ignorance
06-18-2006, 11:03 PM
An update for those who are interested.


I was in a real quandry about what to do. What I eventually did was the following:

1. I saw the "ringleader" sitting on the bench by himself. I sat down next to him and said "Hey Andrew, I want you to stop giving "my son" such a hard time. Do you understand? He said "What do you mean?" I said "Andrew, you are really a smart kid. You know exactly what I mean. Do you understand me?" He said "Sure". Done with phase one.

2. I saw one of the other best players who was being a jerk. This kid is ultra competitive, basically a decent kid, but was a jerk with the "ringleader"'s prompting. I said, "Hey "*", you really pitched well and played great the last game. Do me a favor. "my son" is really having some problems throwing and catching. Since you are so good, could you help him get better? I know it would help him."

3. The third kid is the coach's son. He is good friends with the other two, and joins in sometimes, but I have actually heard him defend my son when he gets a good hit. I don't know him that well, so I didn't talk to him.

The last two games, I haven't heard any of these kids laugh or give my son grief (they did each of the two prior games). In fact, at the last game, my son's team fell behind by 3-0 in the second inning (they were the home team). My son came up, and hit a ball into center (he hit it well even though it was over his head) to drive in the first run for his team. The other kids cheered him on. He later scored. His team went on to win easily. He had two good hits, and walked the third time up.

Did I do the right thing? What do you get when you mix an Elephant and a Rhino? Elephino! Whatever, the teasing and bullying seems to have stopped for the last two games. He is enjoying the game. My stress is down. My anniversary was Friday, Father's day is today, my birthday is tomorrow, I am going to Wimbledon next Saturday for my wife's 40th, I am going to the US Grand Prix the day I get back, and I am preparing for a week backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas with my son and brothers in August.

I feel pretty good right now. Thanks for all of the support.

smith288
06-19-2006, 03:04 PM
Sounds like you did the right thing and caught these kids at the right age to respect your request and your son came through by shutting them up with performing on the field.

All good news!

SandyD
06-19-2006, 10:36 PM
Great to hear, TOI.

Good lesson for the other kids, too.