Skateboarding for Autism

Lyra Stephens

Lyra Stephens' 5-year-old son, Sewell, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2. Ph. Stacy Thacker, Gannett; image courtesy USAToday.

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, skateboarding is often viewed as an extreme sport of choice or a public nuissance. But in this article by USAToday, one roller derby mom is helping her young son with autism by supporting an organization that brings the sport of skateboarding to children whose disability most often restricts them from playing sports at all.

Most people understand the limitations placed on an individual with a physical disability to participate in sports. In fact, we are pretty used to the exhaltation that individuals with disabilities recieve when they are able to overcome their disability to become athletes. However, most people don’t think about how a disability such as autism can prevent a child from playing even the most unruly of neighborhood street sports with local kids. The thought eludes them and many can’t understand why, if there’s not a physical limitation, can’t a child with autism join in. But among other things, autism is a social disorder, making grasping the social dynamics of team sports difficult at best and impossible for most. Yet, co-founderof A.Skate and mom of a child with autism Crys Worley, has found that skateboarding is one sport that children with autism can excel at. The solitary nature of skateboarding provides the perfect physical outlet for children with autism and doesn’t force the child to combat awkward social dynamics.

The A.Skate program travels throughout the U.S. holding clinics for children with autism at no cost to the families, and even gives grants to children with autism for skateboarding gear. The organization also promotes awareness and educates families about the skateboard industry.

The article interviews roller derby mom Lyra Stephens, of Montgomery, Ala., who talks about her son’s autism and the challenges they faced. Currently Stephens is helping to support the A.Skate Foundation organization by organizing a benefit scrimmage that will bring three other derby teams from the region to Montgomery to help the cause.

You can read this and more here.

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