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Here are stories and Information About Youth With Autism</DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD width=592 height=20>
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You probably heard about the young man with autism who scored 20 points in a high school basketball game a few months ago. Jason, a young man with autism, was the quintessential manager for the high school basketball team for four straight years, but during the final home game of the season, his role became that of player. With 4 minutes left in the game and the Greece Athena High School basketball team holding a comfortable lead, Jason was given a chance to play in his first- ever varsity high school basketball game. He entered the game having no clue what it would feel like to play in a regulation game, after spending the last 4 years watching the action from the bench. But on this historic night in a small town outside of Rochester, New Yourk, a 17-year old with autism was the world's major storyline. A young man with autism was finally given a chance and what he did with it was nothing short of amazing. After missing his first two shots, Jason settled down and made his next seven shots, six of which were three-pointers- an amazing feat for even the top high school players in this country! Here was a young man with a disability and a perception by society that he lives in a world with too many obstacles to be a productive member of any team, let alone a high school varsity basketball team. But on this one evening, that all changed.</DIV></DIV>What makes this a love-hate story is that the talents of many individuals with autism and other disabilities are isolated from the rest of the world because of low expectations, misunderstood perceptions, and resistance to change. Dr. Catherine Lord, a professor of psychiatry and the director for the University of Michigan's Autism and Communications Disorders Center, said it best: "There are thousands of Jasons out there, carrying the net for soccer team, keeping statistics for the baseball team, playing the drum for the school band. This serves as a reminder to give these kids a chance whenever possible". From a sociological perspective, our ball fields- and places of employment- are void of people with disabilities. We've built a society on survival of the fittest and have little room for people with disabilities to experience some of the more essential aspects of full inclusion. Sure, it's nice to be the basketball manager and sit on the bench for 4 years watching your teammates score all the points, but it doesn't come close to the experience of scoring your own points.</DIV></DIV>When it comes to sports, most children in the early years want to participate not to win, but to experience a social connection with their peers. Today, so much of school and after- school activities are devoid of team efforts and are spent in isolation- reading, writing, studying, watching TV, or using the computer. Sports is that one essential medium for bringing children together in a cohesive and constructive way so that they learn how to get along with others, work as a team, and stay connected to their group and community.</DIV></DIV>Jason provided yet another example of how important it is for society to give people with disabilities a chance to play. What other children learn on the sports field from the experience of having a teammate with a disability will transcend any classroom textbook on the topic and will help build a society that is more aware of the need to include people with disabilities in every aspect of life. Even for children who have less skill than this young man, technology can play a role in giving every child a shot at winning the game or making 20 points. All it takes is the will of a society to allow people with disabilities an oppertunity to play rather than remain on the sidelines. As Dr. Susan Hyman, an associate professor for pediatics at the University of Rochester's Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities, said: "This is about looking at what sports do for kids in America. You see kids with special needs on the sidelines, not involved, while their typically developing peers are playing. I think the good to come of this is that people will look at the novel ways all members of a community can participate."Amen to that."</DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD width=592>
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