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Old 04-12-2012, 09:25 PM   #1
momto2js
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Need input from parents of kids with Downs or MR

I know no one like the term MR but I'm at a loss for an better term at the moment. Sorry.

Here is the situation, I coach a 4-6 year old tee ball team and this year one of my players is a little girl with Downs. I would love to make this a successful experience for all the kids but I truely lack the experience and training to run an inclusive team.

I would love to hear from parents about accomodations that have been successful for your kids to participate in sports. She is not coordinated enough or athletic enough to compete with the other kids for the ball and her emotional developmental delay makes reasoning with her difficult. She is frustrated and angry (which I completly understand.) I have 9 kids on this team and not a ton of parent support so trying to tailor things for one child is a challenge.

We have just finished our practices and games start this week. I am considering having an adult act as a "buddy" and fielding the ball for her and then letting her throw it. Or at least stopping hte ball for her and then protecting her from the others while she picks it up and throws it. I would like her to stay engaged but that isn't going to happen if she isn't at least sometimes successful.

Any input is appriciated.
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:59 PM   #2
livndisney
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Originally Posted by momto2js View Post
I know no one like the term MR but I'm at a loss for an better term at the moment. Sorry.

Here is the situation, I coach a 4-6 year old tee ball team and this year one of my players is a little girl with Downs. I would love to make this a successful experience for all the kids but I truely lack the experience and training to run an inclusive team.

I would love to hear from parents about accomodations that have been successful for your kids to participate in sports. She is not coordinated enough or athletic enough to compete with the other kids for the ball and her emotional developmental delay makes reasoning with her difficult. She is frustrated and angry (which I completly understand.) I have 9 kids on this team and not a ton of parent support so trying to tailor things for one child is a challenge.

We have just finished our practices and games start this week. I am considering having an adult act as a "buddy" and fielding the ball for her and then letting her throw it. Or at least stopping hte ball for her and then protecting her from the others while she picks it up and throws it. I would like her to stay engaged but that isn't going to happen if she isn't at least sometimes successful.

Any input is appriciated.
As the parent of a child who has been told they could not participate because they were not co ordinated enough, my first question is what is the leagues position on including all children?

Have you asked the parents of the child how to best keep her "engaged"?

Sometimes it can be "enough" for the child just being a part of something. Running around with other kids etc. I would expect if you spoke to the parents with a sincere attempt to help-they would be very willing to give some "tips". They may even volunteer to work one on one with her.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:05 PM   #3
momto2js
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I am trying to have a few suggestions before I talk to mom. We had a pretty major tantrum this evening because she didn't get to throw the ball. The problem is that she really isn't fast enough to compete with the kids so success on her own isn't likely. It is a public rec league so we can discriminate is what I was told. I would have loved to have an inclusive team if I had the training and time to do some planning.

Unfortunatly, I found out when she arrived at practice the first time. I just feel so bad that I don't have a clue how to make this work.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:24 PM   #4
livndisney
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Originally Posted by momto2js View Post
I am trying to have a few suggestions before I talk to mom. We had a pretty major tantrum this evening because she didn't get to throw the ball. The problem is that she really isn't fast enough to compete with the kids so success on her own isn't likely. It is a public rec league so we can discriminate is what I was told. I would have loved to have an inclusive team if I had the training and time to do some planning.

Unfortunatly, I found out when she arrived at practice the first time. I just feel so bad that I don't have a clue how to make this work.
You can discriminate?
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:47 PM   #5
momto2js
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Sorry can't discriminate all are welcome. I REALLY want it to work. It would have likely been better for her to play down a level, she would have been really close with the 3-4 year olds.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:06 PM   #6
livndisney
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Sorry can't discriminate all are welcome. I REALLY want it to work. It would have likely been better for her to play down a level, she would have been really close with the 3-4 year olds.
You had me confused for a minute there.

I can only speak from our experience, but I can tell you I would have prefered for the coach to talk to me, so that we could work together for solutions. I understand you want to help this girl, but some of the best advice is going to come from the parents. They may be able to explain her "triggers", so you can try and avoid meltdowns. They will also know what she can physically do.

When you say she did not get to "throw the ball". Maybe at some point during the game/practice she could throw the ball to you. You could "set it up" that you are close enough for her to be successful.
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #7
kirstenb1
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OP, first of all, thanks for trying to include this child.

Our younger dd has autism with low muscle tone (which many kids with DS have, and can make team sports a challenge).

Our older dd played softball, but I haven't enrolled our younger dd, because of her challenges. Unfortunately, she wouldn't do well at soccer either. The first thing I do with any new activity, is write up a brief description of her challenges, and discuss them with the person in charge. Then I volunteer to be her shadow.

The strange part is, she really hasn't needed it. We chose to put her in tumbling, because at her level, it's non competitive, and not a team sport. The coaches have bent over backwards to work with her. I think partly, because of our candor, and willingness to step in.

We live in a small rural county, with no adaptive sports. But a neighboring county does offer special needs softball and baseball leagues. I really think the kid you're describing belongs there. But, if her parent or another adult could be her shadow, as you suggested, that could work (probably only at her young age, as it gets so competitive quickly).

I'll say, when our older dd was 6 and in coach pitch the coaches were very competitive. I was surprised, because the kids were so young. I guess I'm saying, you have to balance the expectations of the other coaches, and parents, and act accordingly.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:27 PM   #8
Mickey'snewestfan
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Special ed teacher here.

I'm not really clear why kids are competing with her for the ball. I thought Tee Ball was like Baseball, you have a section of the field to "cover", so to speak. I'm particularly confused that you feel she needs someone to "protect her" from her teammates when she throws. I've never heard of baseball as a sport where one takes the ball from teammates after they've picked it up. Is that actually acceptable ever, regardless of disability?

I think the first thing you need to do is establish boundaries with all your players. Once someone gets the ball, they need to go back to their positions. I'd enforce that pretty clearly. In addition, is it a situation where she's right field, for example, and the center fielder is coming into her space to catch the ball, or am I misunderstanding something. If so, you could probably mark the field somehow, e.g. if you're center field, and tell the other players "you can only go this far", so during practice there's a section that's "hers". Alternatively, are there other positions where there's less competition? What, exactly, does the catcher do in Tee Ball? Is there one? Could there be one? Seems like they wouldn't actually "catch" since there's no thrown pitches, but just need to pick up a ball that fell nearby. Also someone could coach or buddy here, and still be off the field.

As far as a buddy, what if, instead of an adult you found a middle schooler or younger high schooler? Around her our MS/HS kids need to earn community service hours. There are listserves for the local MS and HS communities, another parent with older kids could post something for you. It might make her feel more like she's having a "kid" experience if it was another kid with her on the field. I also think that a big part of kid sports is doing something without your parents, so finding a buddy that isn't mom is a good idea.

You mentioned that you're almost "done" with practice, do you continue to practice once the games start, or are they literally done. If you have more practices, you might want to consider structuring it so that there are more drills, and less scrimmaging so that everyone is getting to do more throwing, batting, catching etc . . . You could be thoughtful about how you set up the drills to maximize her playing time. For example, you could have 1/2 the kids do a batting drill, and half the kids practicing throwing back and forth to each other. She's in the batting half first, and then when you switch have her "field" for the batters, run to the ball that she hit and throw it back to whatever adult is putting the ball on the tee. This keeps her supervised, and busy, and doing something that's more within her skill level (e.g. picking up a ball rather than catching one, throwing to an adult who will be more forgiving).

Good luck!
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Old 04-16-2012, 06:41 AM   #9
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I have no better input than what others have already said, but wanted to say thank you for making your attempts to include her. Talk with her parents and it will all work out.

One thing that will make it helpful for you is to change your view of successful for her. Success doesn't necessarily mean she's hitting home runs, throwing the ball to the infield to get someone out, etc. Success is defined, in any kid's league, not even just for a child with disabilities, as if they're having fun with it and can make good memories out of it. By using the suggestions others have provided, you can tailor things so she is having more fun, and therefore getting the most out of the game that she can.
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:43 AM   #10
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One thing that will make it helpful for you is to change your view of successful for her. Success doesn't necessarily mean she's hitting home runs, throwing the ball to the infield to get someone out, etc. Success is defined, in any kid's league, not even just for a child with disabilities, as if they're having fun with it and can make good memories out of it. By using the suggestions others have provided, you can tailor things so she is having more fun, and therefore getting the most out of the game that she can.
For all the kids on my team the success bench mark is smiling more than crying!! They are 4-6 so it isn't like it is a serious "baseball" league, however, some of the parents believe their little angle is the next Derik Jeter. There are a lot of moving parts in this situation. In my experience t-ball is a little like micro soccer or "swarm ball". On this team there are 8 players and we play them all in the infield. Generally, I make sure the "faster" players are put further back at least a couple of innings so everyone has a chance to get the ball. We have also tried to only have the kids try to get the ball on their 1/2 of the field so only 4 are racing for the ball at a time.

There are time when "e" the child described above appears to be having a good tme. There are others when she appears pretty miserable. I think the misery is directly related to the times when she can't do exactly what she wants to do when she wants to do it. I think that the parents are trying to offer some social oppertunities to practice doing thing the way others are doing them. However, it is a bit of a painful process. For the most part the other kids have gotten past this stage of development.

I understand that kids are different however, I struggle with setting limits and the responce of other people to her. I see a lot of isn't she cute even when she is trying to hit me with the bat. I understand that it is hard, but there are times when I think she is really feeding on the attention she gets when she behaves differently than the others.
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Old 04-17-2012, 12:34 PM   #11
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I think it might be beneficial for you to talk with her parents to discuss strategies for including her better. Another thought would be to respond the same way you would if any other kid wasn't getting to play. It is also possible that her parents signed her up, not to socialize her like a puppy, but because she wanted to play.

Last edited by utterrandomness; 04-17-2012 at 12:58 PM.
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