Blog #124~Sports and Your Special Needs Child
Having a child with special needs and finding sports and leisure activities that suit their level isn’t always easy. My son Nick is 21 years old and has Down syndrome and autism. Nick has participated in Special Olympics, Top Soccer, and Challenger League Baseball programs. Today I want to highlight the baseball program (The Challenger Division).
Special Olympics (http//www.specialolympics.org)
Nick stands on the top of the podium winning the Illinois State Gold Medal in the softball throw….
Top Soccer (http//www.usyouthsoccer.org/programs/topsoccer)
Baseball-The Challenger Division http://www.littleleague.org/learn/about/divisions/challenger.htm
“The Challenger Division was established in 1989 as a separate division of Little League to enable boys and girls with physical and mental challenges, ages 4-18, or up to age 22 if still enrolled in high school, to enjoy the game of baseball along with the millions of other children who participate in this sport worldwide. Today, more than 30,000 children participate in more than 900 Challenger Divisions worldwide.
Teams are set up according to abilities, rather than age, and can include as many as 15-20 players. Challenger games can be played as tee ball games, coach pitch, player pitch, or a combination of the three.
One of the benefits of having a Challenger Division is that it encourages the use of “buddies” for the Challenger players. The buddies assist the Challenger players on the field, but whenever possible, encourage the players to bat and make plays themselves. However, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed.”
Nick would hit off the tee and a volunteer buddy would help him around the bases. It was a great experience. Check out our Facebook page called “Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism” to view a wonderful video about The Challenge League. Or go to this link to see more @http://videos.littleleague.org/video/2015/09/09/What+the+Challenger+Game+means+to+Little-wzODBndzpy
I highly recommend looking into sports programs for your child with special needs. The Challenger League was a wonderful program to be involved in. Play ball, that’s what’s in my noggin.