An Open Letter to Fastpitch Coaches & Parents About Autism

We received the following from a fan. We simply ask that you read with an open heart. This is our fanshare of the week.

“I’ve seen this subject many times. If a  girl has an attitude it brings down the team. While I agree to that statement to a certain degree, it also bothers me. Here is what I would like to say.”

Dear past and potential coach(s) and softball family,

I am glad that I have an opportunity to share my daughter. She has played softball for the last 4 years, starting from a rec team, all the way up to a b level 10u team, but currently she plays for a 12u “c” team. She has played many positions, but her focus and love is catching. It keeps her moving and involved, she has been taking weekly lessons for the last 6 months. Her skills have dramatically improved, and knowledge of that position has increased exponentially. The way she swings her bat, with so much focus and strength will leave you in awe, and you will want to help her achieve her goal of hitting a grand slam, she does have all sorts of potential,  and your coaching skills could get her to that level.

 My daughter is a great player, completely in love with the sport, so much so that she over focuses and over analyzes many situations, leading up to what people call an “attitude problem” erupt. It is frustrating to watch this unfold before your own eyes, for ALL involved. The “poor attitude” has dampened the spirit of the game. To toss that promising player out of the game, off of a team, or worse yet bad mouth her to ensure her chances of playing on a team with people at her own physical level are demolished, speaks loudly and clearly that people do NOT accept other with differences.
I understand your frustration.
I am often times overwhelmed with that behavior myself.
You see, my daughter has high functioning autism.  
Often times I go to bed in tears over this behavior of hers, but I love her for being her, all her strengths and weaknesses, even when though those weaknesses often outshine all the good.
I just want you to know that before you judge that child, my child,  who just had a huge meltdown before your own eyes, the child you ‘don’t have time to deal with’ whose behavior seems ‘disrespectful’, please understand that some children are unable to communicate because their brain is in overload. Sometimes  a simple water break in the sweltering 100 degree weather will decrease the chance of a melt down. A coach or umpire may not always recognize the signs before the impending melt down, so if a parent approaches you and suggests a break,  please listen and not toss those suggestive words to the side simply because you are in the middle of an inning. After all these years, I am just trying to help my child get through it with as much normalcy as possible.

We seek a coach who wants and can make the game fun, who will TRY not to yell, (we are all human and we all get frustrated to the point we resort to yelling at time) understand that children on the spectrum have extra sensitive senses. Most importantly keep an open, honest line of communication with me, her parent, especially if you have any questions, God knows that I have questions every single day, being a parent to a “special needs” child is hard, and you coaching that child may prove too much, and that is OK! However if you allow it, it could be the most eye-opening, rewarding experience in your coaching career, but again, ONLY if you accept the challenge.

Respectfully,

A Proud softball mom!

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