Advice for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Being a parent is difficult, being one of a child with special needs is twice as difficult. These recommendations will help you to face every day with your best effort. Because you are not alone, there are many parents like you that love their kids but know how difficult it is. Keep reading and try to practice these, that way you will be a great time while parenting your kid with special needs.

You are not alone

There are many parents, that as you are dealing and trying to live as best they can. Yes maybe your kid’s diagnosis isn’t like others, but these parents know the difficulties, the struggles, the fears and the hope that their son or daughter can be happy because your kids’ happiness will be the most important thing for you. Find a group of parents that will understand you and will tell you their experiences, for you to make notes.

Let others take care of you

You are constantly taking care of your child safety and health, but what about yours? You also will need time for yourselves, take a break, ask a relative or friends that know and fully understand the kid diagnosis and can help for a couple of hours, let them feed you, too. They can even help with the house chores, but let them help you, trying to to do everything by yourselves won’t let to health problems.

You aren’t perfect, but you’re your child’s superheroes

Yes, we are humans and as one we make mistakes, try not to punish yourselves for them, even the first timers of non ASD children make mistakes, so take a deep breath, and let it go! Because in front of your kid you are superheroes, you are the ones that make their dreams come true, that help them with everything, and you always are going to be there for them. You are doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, and parents, so you are not regular.

Time for your kids

With busy schedules for your kid’s condition, you are not spending quality time with them, so it would be good to make time for simple but important things like reading for them, plan a picnic, play with them, whatever it makes them happy. Just be with them outside busy schedules and hospital appointments.

Making heart-wrenching decisions

Because of your child’s diagnosis, you will face a lot of tough choices, but the best way to make them it’s kept to one and never rethink it. Also, it will be good to speak about it with other parents, there won’t be anybody that will understand you better than them. We know that it won’t be easy but try it to do it this way, or make your own way, parenting is a long learning journey.

Forgive yourselves

In this long journey you will make mistakes, bad decisions and will face tough situations, but forgive yourselves everytime that you are wrong, everytime that you feel that you made a terrible mistake, and everytime that you think you can’t do it anymore. Forgive yourselves and always ask for help.

Don’t lose your identity

Being a parent of a kid with special needs doesn’t mean you have a new identity. Many things are going to change, but your true self should never change. Show your son or daughter who you are with everything that comes with you. Find things for you, like a hobby, or try to keep your old friends around, go out with them and speak of things outside parenting or family.

Celebrate the small achievements of your son or daughter

Be proud and show around what your child get to know or do. They may seem small in comparison to other kids, but for you and the kids, they are huge achievements. Remember: for some of them, learning and do simple things could extremely complicated, so praised and brag about a first word, a smile, a first step, be in a team, or simply read a single line.

Don’t make comparisons

Every human is different, so try never to compare them with others. Their diagnosis could be in the same spectrum but can have different levels, or they can suffer different conditions, so never try to do that. Your child is unique, and he or she will show their strengths when the time is right.

Marriage time

If you are in a relationship, or are married, and have a kid with special needs, you will need time as a couple, make that time happen period! Your marriage, just like your child, is important to never put them behind because of your kid schedule or medical appointments, just like before asking for help, and enjoy a fancy date with your partner.

Trust your parent’s instinct

Be a parent come with wonderful gifts like instinct, so use them every time that you feel that something is off. Doctors, teachers, specialists, and therapists know their fields and professions, but if you don’t like it follow those instincts; they are usually right and you would make a good call.

Parenting is hard work, but if your child has a special need, is twice as hard. So keep in mind these tips, and be the best parent as you can. Here at Autism Soccer can give you the best advice and programs for your kids, so don’t doubt and visit us!

parenting and special needs

Never be afraid to ask for help, and be sure to enjoy your kid as much as you can.

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Friendship in Autism: Benefits and Advantages

Friendship is an important part in the growth of every child, but for a kid with ASD that can be something very difficult to achieve. However, when they have a good friend that can change their life, and it helps them to develop social skills. As parents, you can’t make friends for them, but your role will be to help them navigate the strange and fantastic world of friendship.

The importance of friendship

Friends can make ASD children feel more secure while interacting with strange people; it also gives them a boost in their self-esteem and confidence. With friends, they can have experience in managing their and others’ emotions, responding to a variety of situation that will involve feelings, negotiating, cooperation and playing.

Problems to have friends

ASD kids tend to presents this restriction when making friends.

  • Start a conversation and keep it during a long time: ASD kids have many difficulties starting a conversation and keeping is almost impossible for them. But when they begin to interact with peers and making friends that will start to change, it won’t be a quick change, but slowly they will improve their communication skills.
  • Thoughts and feelings of others: they have a hard time trying to understand the thoughts and feelings of people. They can even appear cold, and sometimes they will hurt without acknowledging. Friends will teach them how to deal with different thoughts and feelings.
  • Children’s activities: for a kid with ASD participating in regular activities like spent a time in the park will be strange and stressful. Friends will include them in their activities and help them learn the rules and basic behavior.
  • Body language and expressions: for them, facial expressions and body language are like quantum mechanics, they couldn’t completely understand them, but their friends can work with your child the different aspects of that point in social interactions.
  • New situations: ASD implies to live in a routine to make them feel secure, they suffer from a strong sense of loss and fear, when something new appears in their surroundings, friendships can erase their fear and make a try on different things.
  • Social problems: children with ASD can’t comprehend social issues, like solving disagreements between classmates, but building friendships can change that, having friends will give them the skills to try to understand what is happening and how to help.

How parents can help their child to have friends

You can’t make friends for them, but you can lay out all the situations and help them to find one. Learn how to make it happen.

Know what are your child’s favorite activities

For ASD children is tough to find something that can bring them joy, but when they find it, they can start to be happy. In that environment, they can develop friendships because they will see people with the same interest and that is the bond that will put them together.

Invite kids to an activity

You can work this with their teacher, ask her or him who are the children that are more close to your child, or even asking your child who does he or she want to be friend with? Always speak with your child, because he or she knows exactly what will be the best, and in the end, they will be the one experiencing the friendship. This visit can work perfectly if you make a plan with the other parents, to have a schedule of the activities because kids to act more comfortable when everything is prepared since before.

If your child starts to feel insecure because he or she doesn’t want others close to their toys, games or other stuff, you can plan a trip to the park, like a picnic, with different games, or a visit to the aquarium or museum, everything will depend on what the kids will enjoy more, and which one can bring more time and space to reinforce their interactions.

After school activities

Research and find the best activity that your kid will enjoy after school, maybe enrolling him or her in soccer practice will help to make friends more quickly, besides the tons of benefits that sport can give your child. Start to find activities that can give your kid a way out of the stress of school and other difficulties from ASD.

All of this is with one goal in mind: to make your child enjoy the benefits and happiness that a friendship can bring. Remember, friends are the siblings that we choose; for that reason, every ASD kid deserve to know what is like to have a friend an be one. Come to Autism Soccer, and know all the programs we have to help your child to develop a true friendship through sport.

friends with autism

Friendship can give a kid with ASD the right motivation.

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Animal Therapies for People with Autism

Autism doesn’t have a cure, but animals can have a good impact in children and adults alike, let’s go to find out what are the best animal-assisted therapies to increase kids self-confidence and just make them feel happy.

Working with animal therapies can help children within the spectrum, especially if they like animals, to find a group that shared the same interests, forming bonds and creating possible friendships. Plus the animals will give unconditional love, and it’s something that every ASD kid will receive with gratitude.

Types of animal-assisted therapies

Not any kind of animal will work in these therapies; normally mammals are the best option because they can give and receive affection, and interactions are constant. Reptiles, birds, and amphibians aren’t good options for work with ASD people. No matter what kind of mammal you choose for your kid, it must be with one of these therapies.

Service animal

This works perfectly with the most strong aspect of the spectrum, and it’s well known as the preferred therapy for people with visual needs. Dogs are the animal selected, and some breeds over others. These dogs are highly trained, and you can consider them professional animals, for that reason they are not considered as pets. The dog will completely integrate with the child’s life. Practically it becomes his or her shadow. It could be an expensive therapy, but there are many funding resources, just find the right for your kid.

Therapy animals

This one will provide skills to build social interaction, communication, management of emotions, and playing abilities; even can work to interact with their peers that are also in the therapy, to possibly make friends among them. Any animal works great here: dogs, cats, parrots, Guinea pigs, horses, and others. So the cost will depend on the type of animal that is chosen.

Emotional animal therapy

These animals are usually pets, but they will need a clinical certification to let children go with them everywhere, even school! Dogs and cats are the preferred for this therapy; they will be in stressful situations that the ASD kid can’t face alone, like travel to an unknown place, going to school for the first time, medical interventions, and meeting new people.


Give the opportunity to a child to grow up with a pet and his or her life will change. For ASD kids that is an especial moment because the pet will bring many benefits for them. Pets tend to teach children with autism ‘prosocial’ interactions, such as shared situations and happiness for small things. Also, they provide a type of social bond that is unique and it will be hard to find through another mean.

Hippotherapy (equine therapy)

This is one of the most studied therapy; it has become the complete one because it helps with the emotional part of the spectrum, but also with the ones that suffer from a physical condition. Be surrounded by horses and people in love with them will help kids with social interactions, plus if in the long term they become a skilled horseback rider it’s going to bring benefits in social and physical aspects. However, this is one of the most expensive, for that reason, please make a deep research about it.

Animals are always there to help us, they give their love freely and without asking for anything in return. Teaching your child to be good with them can have emotional and physical benefits, especially for ASD kids, for that reason try to find the correct partner for your little one. Autism Soccer just want the best for your children, so come and find out the best plans for them.

animals and autism

Animals are far more empath than us; they will help kids and adults with ASD.

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Autism and Bullying: What You Should Know

Living with autism bring many challenges, one of the most delicate and dangerous is the bullying. Kids with ASD are more propense to suffer harassment than other. To stand against it you, as parents, will need to work with the school, teachers, and classmates.

Children that have something different than others tend to be bullied at school and neighborhood. Here, at Autism Soccer, we considered ourselves to be against harassment. Through sports and recreation, we dedicate all efforts to teach family and people in general, how to properly interact with kids in the spectrum and other special needs. So please check these points and say NO to bullying!

  • Talk with the them: many times, children within the spectrum don’t realize that they are being bullied, so as parents you should sit down and talk with them in a way that it will be easy for them to absolutely understand it. The teachers also must be attentive to the behavior of every kid and talk about it in the classroom, that way all the students will get that bullying is no correct. Parents and teachers need to work as a team to encourage children to talk when they are not feeling good with their surrounds.

  • Make a plan: it’s important to have a plan to prevent bullying or to stop it when it’s happening; so develop point and steps, discuss it with teachers and every person that are close to your children, that way everybody will be prepared against bullying.

  • Tolerance: teaching tolerance will prevent bad behavior at home, school and recreation environments. This will work with every child; start a campaign at your neighborhood, work with the school to increase the information about tolerance, join the parents in the different recreation programs that your kid attend. All those efforts can generate a good vibe and change the life of people around your family.

  • Speak about ASD and other special needs: teachers that have in their classroom students with special needs, must talk with their students and make them fully understand what are the differences between them and why. Also, make them work together so they will integrate and have a feeling of belong.

  • Encourage kids self-advocacy: parents, teachers, trainers, and specialists can make plans and support kids to be against bullying, but children must learn how to advocate for themselves. After they learn what and how the bullying can appear, they have to communicate their feeling and why they don’t like others behavior. When kids speak up for themselves they won’t become an easy prey for bullies.

  • Know your children’s rights: many states have their own regulations against bullying and laws related to bullying children with special needs, so make a research and learn them, that way you and your kids will be protected legally in case bullying increased to the dangerous level.

  • Speak up!: never be afraid to speak up for your little ones as parents, as a teacher to defend children that are being bullied, and as a student to defend yourself. Bullying is an offend to human rights, and it can never be accepted as normal behavior, so please if you are the victim or only a witness of harassment, don’t stay quiet, speak up for them and for you! Try to write down or even recording every incident, that way you will have proof when you’ll make the report, follow the correct steps and stop bullying once and for all.

Bullying has become a dangerous trend nowadays, but as humans, we cannot let it become a normal situation, speak about it with your family, siblings, friends, and neighbors. Stand up for the victims and do whatever you can to stop it. In Autism Soccer you will find a safe and bullying-free environment for your children, come and check for yourselves how your kid can develop his or her abilities and practice a great sport.

tolerance is key

Friendship and tolerance are the base to stop bullying.

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Tips for Sports and Recreation

Living with ASD is a hard challenge; as parents, you should teach your kids all the hard moments will have a reward and that they have to be strong. But they are still kids, and because of that, they have all the rights to have fun, and enjoy the differents activities and hobbies as regular kids do.

You just have to change a couple of things and make certain rules for them. But if you are feeling lost and don’t know where or how to start making your ASD child feel comfortable with sports and recreation, keep reading and find out our tips.

Sports and recreation!

Let the child take the lead

Every parent will be worried to death when their child is starting a new activity, and you as a parent of an ASD child will be ten times more. But you know your kid, so take in consideration abilities, interest, and strengths of your child, before making a decision include your kid in the process, talking with the child will help you a lot, and the kid will be more assured, and self-confident reducing the anxiety for trying a new thing.

Look for realistic expectations

When you are set in a definite sport or recreation program, you took into consideration what benefits can bring to your child; however, make them realistic. Discuss with your partner, family members and the child your expectation, and see if they are correct. Because you want to build your child’s social skills, or increase self-esteem, make your child success having realistic expectations!

Communication is a must

Team sports can teach your kids social interaction, but for that, you need to be in constant communication with their trainers, make with them a plan around the kid’s abilities and strengths, the trainer will need to know what the child can and cannot do, so please be a friend of the trainers.

Try it out first

Because your child would get anxious about a new program, routine and people, let them know what they can expect of this new activity. Also, you can ask the trainers to give them a couple of lessons before they fully appeared at the practices with the other teammates, that way your kid will know if they feel ready to try it out or not.

Ask other parents

Parents that have already tried that program or recreational activity will indicate what is the best for your child: never be afraid of asking and chat with them. Afterall you are facing and raising a kid within the same spectrum, they better than others will fully understand you.

How many kids will be there?

Group numbers will be important, that way you will notice if your kid will get the necessary attention, without putting other children in the background. Unless the program lets you and other parents participate, or if they have several assistants with the principal trainer. All the kids deserved the same attention, but an ASD kid need to have a one to one relationship with their trainers.

Safety, always first

If the sport or recreational activity requires equipment or any kind of gears, find out what are the bests for an ASD kid. Check the installation for sanitary, and inform the trainer about any medical condition present.


Be flexible with your child; he can’t do everything that regulars kids do, so please don’t get frustrated because they will feel it. Also, practice or playing many things at the same time will split their concentration, and that could be overwhelming and cause frustration. Again, sit down with the trainer or instructor and make a plan of smaller tasks with them, remember to put resting time for them, that way they will never feel tired or exhausted.

Go farther

Play the extra mile by practicing the sport or activity at home, plan with the trainer activities to make them more closely and dedicated to it. You will notice the changes and effort that your children are making, helping them at home also will provide a base before moving them to a team game or activity.

Be patient and happy!

Have kids with ASD is all about patient, and in cases of sports and recreational activities, it must be the first thing to have. You maybe notice the small progress they are making, but encourage them with a huge smile and compliments, never kill the passion that slowly, they are showing to the new program. Reward them for their efforts, and you will see happiness and how they give you love back.

Yes, ASD could be difficult; but as parents, everything that your kid do will feel like a huge reward, they will make you proud. The ASD is just another feature in your child. Put them to try new things, and follow these tips to make them an achievement in your family. Autism Soccer will show this and more activities for your kid to practice, so don’t miss out the chance to change your child life.

having a good time with ASD

Your kids deserved to be happy, even with a disorder within the spectrum.

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Team Sports Can Help Kids with ADHD

Team sports can help your children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), especially with their social interaction among their teammates. It will be teamwork with the coach, parents, and kids themselves, but the results will be wonderful when they can integrate with the rest of the team.

A coach will be the backbone of a kid with ADHD that want to practice a team sport, keep in mind that the coach will also need your help as a parent, so be the best supporter who is always going to be there for them. You need to understand that maybe a sport could be overwhelming but with your love and the coach’s guidance, it could be an experience to remember or their future professional career.

Coach and parents: follow the next points!

  • Never humiliate a child: if you want kids with ADHD to improve their social interactions, NEVER punish them. For the trainers is normal to punish their athletes, like running 30 laps if a play goes wrong, but with ADHD that doesn’t work. It would be better to talk with the kids and pair them with a buddy that will help with the plays and routine inside the practices. That way, both parents and coaches can help to nurture their social interactions.

  • Drill all that you can: kids with ADHD get bored quickly, so change your practice routines and push them to move around until they get exhausted. Parents can work with the coach a routine at home, to help to burn that energy and keep up with practices.

  • Go one-on-one: kids with this condition struggle with group directions, but if the parents take time to explain the coach, and together make a new plan for directions, everything will go incredibly.

  • Do a double-check: as a parent you know that your kids will need more attention, so ask the trainer to make a casual conversation with them alone, that way he will know if they fully understand the practices and the instructions. Because, if the child feels disengaged or confused, could lead to a communication breakdown, and parents and coaches would have to work hard on that situation.

  • Win or lose as a team: kids with ADHD will take too serious winning or losing, so teach them that you lose or win as a team, that a game is a team effort, and never will be their fault because they have ADHD. This is known as sportsmanship values and can be instructed in all the players.

  • Make them know the game well: kids need to burn out all that energy, so move the player around, teach them all the positions and plays, so that the little ones will feel integrated with the team. And parents, practice with your kids those positions and plays, so they will be excited to return to practices.

  • Excitement: kids with ADHD get over excited with the action of a game, forgetting about teamwork and strategies, and that can cause the loss of the team, so parents help the coach to be ready for this, and get the excitement to a normal level.

  • Make a resting plan: when they get overwhelmed and tired, it would be great to let them rest, so design with the trainer a resting plan, inside the practices and in real games. That way your kid won’t be exhausted and down.

  • Enroll them young: kids with ADHD tend to think and act socially and emotionally younger than their age, so paired them with a group one or two years younger probably would be the best.

  • Think in the best: please ask the coach to evaluate your children to know what is the best position, and best course of action for them, that way the coach will be looking for those strengths, that way both of you can look out for the child.

Remember that coaches can make an impact on a child life, they can change how the child sees itself, so make them your best ally in this new step on your child life. They can help children with ADHD to learn that they have a value as a member of the team, and inclusive can define their future career, with your help and guidance, of course. So, let your kid try a team sport and see the differences at the beginning and after a time practicing it. Come to Autism Soccer and get the right opportunities for your children, learn more about team sports and make them happy.

Team sports improve kids' lives.

Improve the life of kids with ADHD using team sports.

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ASD and ADHD Advantages in Sports

The ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) shouldn’t be a limitation, neither the ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Every person that deals with these disorders will tell you that even if it’s a difficult road to go through, it hasn’t stopped them from being professionals or from having a regular life. Some studies show the cons of these conditions while practicing or playing in professional circles or just for fun.

But when it comes to reality, it’s precisely the opposite. Kids within these spectrums will put all their effort and focus on the practices and games. Some sports work better with each one of the different disorders, and as a parent, you need to encourage your child to that perfect match, and never break his illusion to practice a sport. There are many examples of athletes that have a brilliant career in their preferred sport while living within a spectrum.

Advantages of ADHD

  • It doesn’t require intense concentration: many sports need short bouts of attention (15 seconds approximately), like swimming, or shorts shifts during the game, like hockey or soccer.
  • Heighten awareness of environment: because of their short attention, they take in care all the details of their environments. That’s why they will take great consideration in every aspect of the sport, and every team colleague.
  • Ability to do well under pressure: a regular kid will fight and get tired of the pressure, but a kid with ADHD works perfectly with it. They like to be active every minute of the day, and they will feel comfortable with all the heavy training and agendas, just keep your kid for straining too much.
  • Ability to do well in chaos: football could be a mess, and a regular kid will find it strange, but an ADHD kid will find it attractive, they love to fix problems and chaos. They develop well in these environments, so maybe your child could be the next famous quarterback.
  • Unique/creative problem solving: a kid with ADHD needs a routine, but they love the creative ones! A sport can give it to them, and the only problem can be that the coach needs to be prepared to change the routines every few months, so the kid doesn’t get bored. Put them in the most difficult and demanding practices, and they will get a unique way to face them. That’s why strategies sports are the best in this case.
  • Quick speed/reaction time: swimming and hockey are sports that need speed and quick reactions, and kids with ADHD can develop these characteristics and honed them for their advantages. Michael Phelps is a good example.
  • Lack of concern about losing at the moment: ADHD kids won’t need the feel of victory at the beginning, so while they become the best in that sport, they will only enjoy the rush and adrenaline of playing a sport.

Advantages of ASD

  • Over-focusing on technical aspects: every sport is very technical. Kids with ASD, especially Asperger, will put all their effort to learn the rules and the techniques, and possible they could get a perfectionist streak, that could be dangerous in certain situations. However, that’s what will make them the best in their fields. Clay Marzo is a living proof of this.
  • Practicing for a longer time: what respectable coach doesn’t want their athletes to practice 24/7? And ASD brings them to that fine line between being good with the practice and being a monster with only one thought: to be the best. ASD athletes’ coaches need to be very synchronized with their athletes’ needs before they burn themselves.
  • Hyperfocusing when necessary: every athlete needs to have complete concentration, but ASD athletes manage this as an art, and it’s very natural for them. A pitcher with a full count, a quarterback facing a disaster game, a soccer player with penalty definition, and even quiet sports like chess or archery will need a total concentration. Kids with ASD will use their hyper-focusing to face these situations.
  • Greater ability to stay calm due to having less emotional responses: ASD kids don’t show emotions as regular kids do, so when practicing sports they will never have to be worried about feelings. They face the games or competitions with a cold mind, and even if they lose, they will move on to the next target on the list.

Kids with ASD and ADHD could be the best athletes out there. They just need the correct people around, the right motivation, and the best encouragement; that way they could have a fantastic career and make their countries and family proud. Come to Autism Soccer and get the right opportunities for your children, keep in touch with us through our social networks, to find more articles and special topics.

Sports are helping kids with autism spectrum.

Living with ASD and ADHD could be less frightening when sports are involved.

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Top Five Athletes on the Autism Spectrum

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is hard. You might feel like your kid won’t have all the opportunities that the future can offer a neurotypical child. However, living with autism shouldn’t be a limitation for your child! Children are allowed to play and have fun with their peers, a kid with autism is not an exception. They could find a sport that catches their attention; your duty as a parent is to encourage them to pursue that sport. Why? Because even with autism they are capable of having a professional career as athletes.

These five athletes can show you and your kid what is like to be a professional athlete, and living in the autism spectrum at the same time. All of them agreed on one thing: their sports were one way to work with their diagnosis and focus on overcoming their problems, especially social relationships. So, read these amazing stories and show your kids what they can achieve.

Meet the athletes!


Clay Marzo: surfing is life for Marzo. As many kids within the spectrum, his Asperger diagnosis didn’t appear until he was 18 years old. At the beginning it was ADHD, then dyslexia, then learning disability, and finally Asperger. But that didn’t stop him from jumping on the surfboard and enjoying the life in water. Now Clay is 29 and feels more confident facing the waves than facing people on land. He still has problems with social interaction, simple conversations and maintaining eye contact, but that is just smaller problems, surfing is what he needs and what he seeks, “Out of the water, he is not comfortable, even today. In the water, it’s like he can breathe,” said his mother, Jill.

Dealing with Asperger hasn’t been a limitation, he is one of the best free surfers in the world, has many sponsors as Quicksilver, Skullcandy, DC Shoes, and others. Marzo is well known as being painfully honest, but intuitive and expressive in the water. His surfing style is so innovative, that is impossible not to look at him when he is competing. Marzo also volunteers at Surfers Healing, a non-profit organization that helps kids with autism spectrum in surfing camps. As he mentions it, teaching surf to children like him has been an amazing experience.

Tommy Des Brisay: autism spectrum hasn’t stopped Tommy to run as faster as he can. He wants to be part of Canada’s Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2020, that is his dream and major goal. He was diagnosed when he was 2 years old and was very active especially in the physical aspect, but when turned 5 he still hadn’t spoken a single word. The experts told his parents that he maybe wouldn’t talk at all, but slowly he began to write and read until he finally said his first words at 8 years old. Disney’s movies have been his passion and are helping him with communication skills. As a huge fan of Disney, he felt happy in the Disney Parks.

Tommy started to run at age 14, two years later he joined the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club. They help him with his every need and have been his principal supporters in his professional career. He has won many field, track, and cross country races, and now he is aspiring to get the mark and participate and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Summer Games; he also practices ski, kayak, and rock climbing because he likes to be active. As he said: “I’m going to be the first fastest runner in the world!” Autism hasn’t stopped Tommy running style.

Michael Phelps: perhaps the most famous swimmer in the world, and most condecorated Olympic medalist. But, do you know that he suffers ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Yes, at age 9, Michael was diagnosed with this disorder. His mom, Debbie, explained that it was a heartbreaking notice because people around him considered the diagnosis as a limitation. They said that he won’t be able to achieve anything in his life, but Debbie and Michael, his father, fought hard to make him focus at school. Debbie, as a teacher, conceived several techniques to make him concentrate even with the hard subjects; an example: she said to his math teacher to make the class problems around swimming, so he was finding school entertaining.

ADHD wasn’t a limitation for him; instead made him focus in the swimming races because they are short and quick, and that was exactly what he needed at that time. Swimming makes him happy, and he knows everything his mom did to help him, so through his foundation The Michael Phelps Foundation, he tries to use those experience to help kids to learn how to swim. And his mom uses what she learned while raising Michael, at her school where she is the principal in Maryland, it doesn’t matter if the kid suffers or not of ADHD. Michael’s story is an inspiration for everyone, kids and parents as well.

Jessica-Jane Applegate: this 22 years old girl has to deal with living with ASD in Great Britain, but her mom, as Phelps’s mom, realized that she was happy and more focus in the water, so she encouraged her daughter to pursue a professional career in swimming, and now she is one of the best female Paralympic swimmers of the world. She has 24 medals, many British, Paralympic and world records, and a promising future in the swimming world competition. She was the first British athlete with ASD to win gold at the London 2012 Paralympics Games.

In 2013, Jessica was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contributions to swimming, by the Queen. As she said in an interview, she won’t let her limits restrain her: “In training/competition there are very few people who really understand how hard it is for me. I really struggle to cope with people socially. I don’t like any changes and trying to concentrate on more than one thing is so difficult, but my coach is very understanding. We have a timetable for everything, so I have a good routine, we make plans to keep calm and we always have a backup plan so I feel safe.”

Cammi Granato: she is a particular case, because she lived all her life, and part of her professional career, without knowing about her condition. It wasn’t until 2003 that she heard about ADHD, and realized that the symptoms could be her behavior. After a visit to the doctor, she was diagnosed with it. Granato says that growing up with six siblings is the reason behind being blind about the disorder; her behavior was normal with all the disaster in her house. However, with her hockey career making her famous, after winning a gold medal in the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics, with USA Hockey Olympic Team, she finds herself in a mess.

“My life began spinning out of control,” said the Illinois native, who is now 47. “The number of voice messages and emails I received became overwhelming, I couldn’t return them all. My bills didn’t get paid. My house was a mess. I bought every anti-clutter book out there, but they just became part of the clutter.” Her diagnosis was her salvation, now she deals with her life in a normal way, and put all the energy that ADHD gives her into her job as a sportscaster, “Though I wasn’t playing, I found myself feeling all the highs and lows of the game,” she says. “It was nice to still feel that. I may never be the best sportscaster out there, but life isn’t about being the best, with or without ADHD. It’s about meeting challenges and doing the best job you can. ADHD comes with certain strengths and weaknesses that have made me who I am, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Being diagnosed with ASD or ADHD must not be a limit for your kids to reach a dream career in a sport. Encourage them to pursue their dreams, make them put all their efforts and energies in the practices and games, and you will see the results very soon. Just remember to be there for them, and try to understand what they are trying to communicate, above all.

Autism won't stop your love for sports.

Jessica’s love for swimming is bigger than living with Asperger.

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How to Educate a Neurotypical Sibling?

No one prepared the parents of children with autism, nobody noticed or warned that the arrival of a child with ASD could be possible. So the education to raise our child with autism and our neurotypical child at the same time has been learned, after overcoming frustrations, book readings, training, patience, and a lot of creativity.

One of the most complex issues that parents face when it comes to educating children is to decide which pedagogical project or which educational line to choose. And things get even more complicated when you have to educate more than one child because the surprise is that there are no two children alike, and they never respond in the same way to the methods that already worked successfully in previous cases.

What to do when there’s a neurotypical sibling?

Imagine then what happens when one of the brothers requires somewhat peculiar educational methods. Educational methods that can’t be learned either from one’s own experience, from reflection during pregnancy, or from reading the books of preparation to be perfect parents of programmable children to respond accurately to each of the options.

In the case that a child with autism has neurotypical siblings, the situation may show clear divergences in the treatment given to the children. So, the question that parents should ask is: what to do when my child with autism needs certain strategies to learn but also does my neurotypical child?

How to integrate neurotypical and ASD children

When you have more than one child, and one of them has autism, there are two possible cases: the neurotypical being the firstborn or the child with autism being the firstborn. Let’s see:

  • If the first child has autism, and the parents have set to work, the second child arrives at a home where the pictograms and social stories are the order of the day. The second child simply learns to live like this, and in any case, it’s the parents who must re-practice a more relaxed and natural form of communication.

  • If the first child doesn’t have autism, and the parents already believe they have found the most appropriate educational method. In that case, it may become more difficult to integrate the older child into all those changes that occur in the dynamics of the family. Well for them, that looks like a great injustice. If they used to go out to any big party, why can’t they go now? If before spontaneously decided to go to the movies, to the circus, to the beach, why should we now live with an iron agenda that dictates our life?


We have to become accustomed to the normal jealousy of the children, to the competitiveness between brothers; but we need to change life and family dynamics for the new member of the family.

In a family, all members should know that they are part of a team and that they should be helping, supporting and waiting for others, when it’s necessary. Therefore, each of the members must have their spaces of freedom, and in the family as a whole should accommodate some dynamic and integration activities:

  • Days of games at home.
  • Family pajama parties.
  • Day of cooking, where the whole family participates in making meals.
  • Conversations where one of the parents is combined with one of the children, to maintain the family agenda without losing neither the spontaneity nor the multitudinous socialization.
  • Bread a weekly routine, where they have vacations, free days, family life. Activities and family time that will help them not to lose the energy of everyone. And so it allows the siblings of children with autism to develop and feel that they are listened to and taken into account, which they need.


Maintaining two lines of education can often be stressful, and above all frustrating for everyone, but with love, patience, and unity everything will be easier.

While neuroatypical children take energy and time, neurotypical children also have needs that require fulfillment from their parents and caretakers.

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Back to School: How to Help Your Child with Their New School Year

The school is an environment that encourages and helps the development and social adaptability of our children, but it can turn out to be a tense environment, with excess stimuli and provoking disruptive behaviors if we don’t pay attention to specific details. Parents of children with autism need to take into account general issues when preparing the children to go back to school. It’s not just about taking them and leaving them there, it’s about taking them to a place where they will be happy, and they will learn.

Tips for back to school

Communication with the teaching team (principals and teachers) is essential for a proper school experience process. Before returning to school, it’s advisable to have a meeting with your teachers and the school guidance team (pedagogical team).

It’s important to know the general project and the type of activities that we’ll have for our child; whether it’s inclusion or integration. There may also be plans to work individually and in a different environment of your classroom on some specific topics.

If the professionals involved in your child’s treatment have written instructions to apply in the school context, you should immediately inform the school. Thus the general project of the school year is modified according to the particular needs that arise.

In the meeting you make with the pedagogical team, it’s recommended that you comment on the needs or other relevant subjects that are necessary to share, such as:

  • What does the child like.
  • What subjects attract the attention and which ones don’t.
  • How to maintain or recover the child’s attention.
  • What situations can disorganize the child behaviorally, and how to recover it.
  • What can he eat and what can not.
  • Associated health problems.
  • Expose the areas of strength and areas that require support. A summary of the previous school year is very valuable.

Prepare the child

The school and teachers need to prepare to receive the child with autism, regardless of their adaptive level and academic performance. But it’s also necessary to prepare our child for the return to school, for this it’s advisable to take into account some things:

  • Have conversations with him about the school.
  • Visit previously the school where the child is going to study.
  • Make social stories about returning to school, with graphic media, toys or simulations of school activities.
  • The holidays are always out of control of the sleep schedule, so to begin to establish a schedule to sleep and wake up is fundamental.

The return to school is an activity that we must prepare with a special dedication.

Our child must be happy and safe at school.

Learning what makes your child happy in the academic sense is fundamental to help them reach their success in their school year.

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