It’s true that children with autism face many challenges that non-autistic children don’t. Often times children with autism have difficulties with social interactions, repetitive behaviors, and trouble focusing on the person talking or understanding what’s happening in the classroom (or on the field). This can cause many difficulties for children who want to play team sports like football.
While children with autism are certainly not excluded from regular team sports, it requires special attention and instruction for them to be successful on the field. If you are a parent of a child with autism and you want them to participate in team sports, like football, be prepared to spend a lot of your time preparing your child and your coach for what to expect.
Success in sports, much like many other activities that require processing a lot of information at a time, depends a lot on the severity of your child’s autism. A child who functions at a very high level, may get a great benefit from participating in team sports. However, a child who has a harder time with social and learning skills may get more discouraged. The difficulties inherent in sports may cause more stress than they’re worth.
Don’t let that discourage you if you think you’re child is born for sports. Football is a great example of how autism can work to a player’s advantage because it has players with special skills, like kickers. While the kicker doesn’t often play a lot of the game, he has a specific function he must practice over and over to achieve perfection. This type of role may be good for a child with autism because it allows him to excel in a team and have a specific role he can develop. For an inspiring story about a high-school hero with autism, read these articles.