August was another great month of sport and inclusion with the first week of the Paralympic Games drawing lots of engagement from around the world.
Autism acceptance has also seen plenty of activity, so we have collated some of our favourite inspirational stories from the last month to start September on a high.
Daniel LeCompte’s passion for ice hockey was ignited after watching an Atlanta Thrashers game when he was seven years old. That emotion led him to play ice hockey until he was 12, when his mum took him away from the sport after he was punched during a game. But absence only made the heart grow stronger and the realisation that Daniel was most at ease when playing ice hockey, despite experiencing sensory difficulties when in front of large and noisy crowds. After returning to the ice in high school, he now has an opportunity to play for Boston Junior Bruins with the overall goal of becoming a professional.
Catch him if you can
As well as swimmer Dai Tokairin, who featured in last month’s Global Spectrum, runner Michael Brannigan is another overseas athlete with autism to look out for in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. When Michael was eight, the mental and physical benefits of running became a large part of his life very quickly. He is the current Paralympic champion in the 1500m T20 classification and runs in this year’s final on Friday 3rd September at 10:13am (UK time).
Call to action
This piece was written by Ben Haack – an autistic Athlete Leader with the Special Olympics – and outlines some benefits that fellow autistic people can find in sport, not just through participation. The 38-year-old from Australia’s Gold Coast encourages volunteering, refereeing, and coaching at grassroots level to help build transferable skills, an appreciation of sport, and gain experience of being around a sporting organisation; also recommending that clubs and communities provide more of these opportunities for the youth.
A disc golf tournament has helped raise awareness of autism and funds for Siskin Children’s Institute, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The tournament was also staged to show how welcoming and accessible disc golf is for people with autism. Disc golf is very similar to standard golf, but involves throwing a frisbee into a target rather than a hitting a golf ball. It can also be accessed in the UK and other countries around the world.
On the water
Sean Bishop and others involved with the Northwest Association for Blind Athletes recently had the opportunity to kayak on Turner Lake in Oregon, USA. It was the first time that eight-year-old Sean, who has autism and is visually impaired, had experienced kayaking, and was accompanied in the kayak by a programme coordinator while his grandfather watched from the shore.