Susan's Blog

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One Team, Unified, Indivisible

I wrote a column for this week’s Brookline Tab, about the Unified Sports concept in Special Olympics. Unified Sports is a way to make the playing field more inclusive for all. Typically-developing players play right alongside special athletes. Special athletes are the only ones allowed to score, however. It is a perfect situation for all involved to strengthen different skills, whether they be trying to get a basket under pressure, or good sportsmanship and helping your fellow man.

There is no reason why every town shouldn’t have Unified teams. There is so little cost to anyone, provided there are volunteers to help assist and coach, and school systems willing to donate the space for competitions.

I might sound like a poster child for Special Olympics, but that’s because Nat has enjoyed himself there, and has grown so much because of SO. I think that SO has done more for Nat than any therapy he’s had. Sure, I think his teachers have brought him a long way. But there is so much to be said about fun as a way to grow and learn. I truly believe that not enough of our autistic kids have fun. So many of us are just too busy trying to “improve” them that we forget that they need time just to play.

And of course the play leads to other development. I think Nat now understands about paying attention to what others say to him because he had to learn that to be on a basketball team. When people called his name, it was because they were about to throw a ball at him. And now, when people call his name, he looks up and listens. He may not overtly respond, but I think he processes.

The other day, he even held open the door for me and waited for me to get there. Where did he learn that? What a guy.


Read your article. Really enjoyed it.

— added by Jeannie on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

How wonderful! thanks for sharing!

— added by Holly Nappi Collins on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

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