Soccer and Autism…why?

Hello Dear Reader,

For those waiting to for me to finish my notes from Michelle Garcia Winner’s amazing Social Thinking class I will do that soon and apologies.

I wanted to write about soccer today because well we had soccer today.  To be specific we had soccer after I made a beautiful lunch for Lesley (Bird’s therapist of 10 years who is on maternity leave from us but not school her full time job and while she has only worked 1 hour a week for the last 2 years they are incredibly valuable to us but I digress) and we discussed socialization a class she is giving in 2 weeks for our families.  We looked through some of Michelle’s books and to our great job Bird had already acquired more than 75% of the skills!  I was shocked (she wasn’t) but it gave me pause to think about how he gained these skills without the books!

Fast forward about an hour and Bird and I are standing in the rain at the soccer match while my husband took Peep to her games as he is the co-coach and unfortunately they were playing at the same time but 15 miles apart.  I watched Bird shyly greet his team with a little stress on his face because we were 15 minutes late to the 30 minute warm ups.  I wanted to be late…I admit it!  I am occasionally early, almost always on time and occasionally I pick to be late to keep Bird in check with not getting rigid about control or insanely stressed about time the fact that it was cold and rainy made for the perfect time in my mind. For those whose kids don’t have OCD or autism or are new to autism this might not make sense.  Being late and then discussing enroute what the worse thing could be that would happen if we were late repeatedly over the last 8 years has created a kid who today said,”Well we are 15 minutes late…I guess that’s okay.”  Bird knows after numerous reviews of worst case scenario and   simply being driven home without getting to do what he wanted to do because he responded to strongly to being late that he will need to deal with unexpected moments and move on.  So on all counts he really does role with it.

Back to soccer and his coach (who I did not like initially but is fine maybe even good possibly wonderful..but I am not going there yet) who briefly tells Bird to line up for the refs with the rest of the kids and says nothing more.  This indicates to Bird that nothing is actually going to happen because he is late and he is once more reinforced that the world will in fact keep spinning move on.

Bird asks a little later if he is playing in the first quarter and is met with a quick no from the coach and you’ll be going in about 10 minutes into the first quarter.  Bird has to deal with the disappointing of not getting to play.  For the sake of history Bird started playing soccer in 2nd grade and then stopped after 5th and took 2 years off while working on Shototkan Karate (a truly brutal karate only for those who really really want to become incredibly disciplined and for the super hfa we go to SKC Shotakan and love it).  Bird went back to soccer this past season to my pleading NOT TO GO…OH PLEASE SON…YOU ARE GOING TO SIT A LOT AND IT’S CHANGED…NO PLEASE DON’T (not playing soccer for 2 years is a big deal at this age as his sister has never stopped playing soccer except for 1 season and even that short period of time made it hard going back).  He did it anyway and still does karate, ccd and scouts as well as a monthly engineering club..why yes he is busy.  So, Bird has learned it’s okay not to be put in the game immediately.  This skill has been transferred to many things in his life where he has had to delay gratification so really useful.

During the game Bird played right defender and the ball went out on the other team.  Em (another boy on Bird’s team) picks up the ball hoping to throw it in and the coach yells,”Bird take the throw in.” Bird see’s Em happily holding the ball but now expecting he must turn it over to Bird and Bird yells back,”No, Em has it.”  I almost cried!  Okay, he should have listened to his coach.  My husband coaches and I know he would not have been on fire mad but he would not like a kid to tell him no on the field.  Bird knew the rules, knew that Em could do a good throw in and knew that he has just taken a few throw ins so no skin off his noes to let this other kid throw the ball in.  He told me all of this after the game when I asked him about it.


Why put your child with autism in soccer.  They learn things you don’t know that they know which will benefit them in life way more than you would think!


During the game I took a picture of my son during half time sitting on a portable row of benches in the middle of his group.  You only see the boys back and numbers but to me this is the face of autism.  My son is a boy nothing more nothing less and not a label…just another kid.


I wish your family great things and keep up the work!

For info on how to help your child please join us in 2 weeks for the Parent Training Boot Camp info is at and your welcome to message me if you have questions.


All For Our Children,

Shannon McGrail aka PVBIA Momma





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