Autism Awareness: A League of Their Own
Yesterday was opening day. But for Luke it’ll start in few weeks. Last year he played CHALLENGER baseball. Here’s a video I found:
In a nutshell, Challenger baseball is a division of Little League for mentally and physically challenged kids. The kids get uniforms, they set up a sound sweet system and announce all the kids to great cheers (Luke’s favorite part), they give free hot-dogs and snowballs at the end(Luke’s other favorite part). Our league even does a festival where the Oriole Bird comes and plays, and they give out free tickets to an Oriole game(the O’s even do a clinic for kids who wish to attend).
The game welcomes all players regardless of skill level/ability. They use a soft ball and foam covered bat to take away any risks/dangers. And they don’t keep score, everyone gets to bat every inning and the games last about an hour.
Some kids are really good, batting off live pitching and crushing line drives to the outfield. Others, like Luke, are in it for the Hotdogs and National Anthem.
I stand with Luke around short stop, mostly so he doesn’t drop his glove and run off. As far as ‘playing goes’, last year was mostly about just getting him to keep his glove on and occasionally wear a hat.
He’s really not that interested in the action of the game. But he loves the trappings. They play at night so when the lights come on he’ll shout out “All Star Major League Baseball 2006” or “Fireworks Celebration!”. He likes running out and getting the high-fives and he especially likes when he gets to take his hat off and listen to the National Anthem.
Maybe this year he’ll swing the bat once or twice on his own and run to first base without being nudged.
It doesn’t matter. Especially to Luke. He’s in it for the hot dogs.
More on challenger baseball…
One of the benefits of having a Challenger Division is that it encourages the use of "buddies" for the Challenger…www.littleleague.org
There are Challenger Baseball divisions setup every where that there’s little league…if you have a kid who might be interested — try it out. (or setup your own league!)