Happy New Year!
As with the start of every month, we have published our latest edition of Global Spectrum which brings together some feel-good stories from the world of autism and sport.
Closing an eventful 2021 are four stories that made us smile in December.
Jason McElwain was a high school superstar. He was subbed onto the court for Greece Athena in a varsity basketball game and scored 20 points – a moment so fantastic that it won an award. McElwain was diagnosed with autism at two years old and he is now 34, with his story providing lots of inspiration for Dallas Center-Grimes – a high school team in Iowa. Through in-person appearances and Zoom calls, New York-based McElwain has built a strong relationship with the Dallas Center-Grimes team and helps players work towards their goals.
In December, Emma Stanbury announced that she has autism. She plays football for Liberty A-League Women club Adelaide United in Australia. The 30-year-old explained how coaches are listening to her and supporting her to reach her potential, and she hopes her story will inspire young people with autism to have goals and achieve them.
Ice hockey teams W.T. Woodson and Robinson held a joint practice with NOVA Cool Cats, a club founded in 2004 to give neurodiverse young people the opportunity to take part in the sport. The practice was held in Alexandria, Virginia, prior to a game between Woodson and Robinson, with Cool Cats players’ joyous energy proving infectious and motivational for both teams.
Oklahoma State University quarterback Spencer Sanders played in the 2021 Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game at the start of December and surprised his high school friend Stone Evans and his dad Stan with tickets to the match. Stone has autism and has been close friends with Spencer since their days at high school; the American football player helped Stone through times of hardship and bullying.