Originally Posted by Tools of Ignorance
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.
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...
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.