Joshua Scores: How Special Olympics Helped My Son
Special Olympics basketball tournament gave Autistic boy the opportunity to achieve athletic potential.
Julie Powell’s son, Joshua, played a key part in the recent victory by the New Jersey Hawks at the Special Olympics Basketball tournament in Wildwood NJ. Joshua scored a basket with 1.6 seconds remaining the clock got the ball in to push the game into overtime. The team later went on to the win the game. She wrote us this moving note about what the game meant for her son and gave us permission to share it.
Despite my son's athletic ability, participating in recreational sports in town has always been a challenge.
For some kids, having Autism is best explained as having social blindness. Misunderstanding another child's intentions when they are horse playing or a coach's non verbal cues can make it very difficult for children living with Autism to participate in mainstream youth sports. The anxiety of not feeling understood can easily interfere with one’s ability to play.
In Joshua's case, he would withdraw and become self destructive in someway, such as pulling his hair out or biting his nails.
The Special Olympics provides a safe environment for my child and other children with special needs where they can feel emotionally safe and be understood by coaches and teammates alike. As a result of feeling safe my son, my Joshua can perform at a high level. This was clearly proven when he made the basket during game three of the tournament with one second left of the clock, enabling his team to win gold for their division.
After the third game, Joshua got in the car and said, "Mommy I made a difference."
He sure did.
Joshua is a terrific kid and he needs to feel as if he matters and the Special Olympics have given him that opportunity. This experience has fostered friendships with other players and coaches alike. It has been a gift in both our lives. I no longer have to beg a coach to take my child and explain all of the reasons why it will be hard for him to participate. I don’t have watch and worry as he withdraws into his own world of self-destruction.
I hope this helps you understand what a gift the Special Olympics are to our family and how much this achievement means to the players and their family.