It isn’t always easy to have a child with special needs and find sports and leisure activities that suit their level. My son Grayson was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 20 months, and I thought our world was crashing all around us. So many questions ran through my mind. Will he ever talk? Will he ever be successful in social activities? Ever like to play sports?
However, it wasn’t until I was introduced to Tiny Troops Soccer while stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico that helped change my view on special needs, Soccer, and sports in general.
Not only does my son have Autism, but he also has a genetic disease called Cystic Fibrosis. The thought of him in the heat with both conditions made me so nervous as a new mom! So when my neighbor, who was also a Coach for Tiny Troops Soccer at the time, introduced me to the program and explained how we could get him on the field, I knew I had found a program that would work for us.
Finally, it was time. Our first session was very eventful. I was picking Grayson up, swinging him by his arms. In fact, I was bribing him with everything I could to get him to participate. Grayson screamed, he resisted, and he fought. He ran to the park; he did it all! It wasn’t until Coach brought out some of the fun activities like the tunnel that he became more engaged. Coach Sarah was so patient with him, made sure to get on his level, and ensured that we could substitute some of the tasks with other fun activities. She explained to me this was all NORMAL! No way did I believe that. But I knew I had to keep bringing him for him to get used to it. Soon, he did just that! By session 2, he was a pro at holding our hand, dribbling the ball, and trapping.
As a soccer mom and now a Coach on the Tiny Troops Soccer team, I have complete confidence in the program and our Tiny Troopers with special abilities!
Our Coaches go through special training to ensure they can help redirect the little ones on the field. We do have quite a few kiddos in our program with Autism and other developmental delays and have received great feedback from their parents.
We encourage our parents to help their little ones on the field. If you see that your Tiny Trooper is getting the hang of it, we ask that you step back. Let them participate with just the coach and their teammates.
We use volcanoes (our sideline cones). We suggest a parent sit with their little ones and help explain the next activity. Furthermore, parents are always welcome to talk to the coach before the start of the session. Let them know your Tiny Trooper will need a little assistance.
To sum up, special needs does not mean they cannot experience the fun Tiny Troops Soccer has to offer. We love seeing all abilities on Soccer Island!
Blair is the Administrative Assistant for Tiny Troops Soccer. She brings her passion for child development and technology skills to her role, and is a valued member of the team. She’s also an advocate for Autism and Cystic Fibrosis, volunteering for events when she can.