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What Matters October Topics > How does Micha’s experience with Cross Country (p. 64) connect with your own experiences with sports?

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message 1: by Cristy (new)

Cristy James | 26 comments Mod
How does Micha’s experience with Cross Country (p. 64) connect with your own experiences with sports?


message 2: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Nightingale | 2 comments I love soccer and played since I was very young and through college. I coached a young girls team a few years ago, and one of our players had Autism. I remember being very touched about how inclusive the other girls were. We never had to remind them to be inclusive, it was like they were all taught inclusion since they were old enough to interact with others. When our player with ASD was having a tough day, or wasn't interested in that drill, everyone was more than happy to adjust the drill to make it more fun or encourage her to keep playing with them. This was always great to see for me as a coach, and that players mom shared similar thoughts with me. It was a recreational league, so everyone got equal playing time, and I think that set a good tone for inclusion as well. I remember growing up, if you weren't good, you didn't play, or maybe you only played a few minutes per quarter. It's nice that this is no longer encouraged in rec leagues!


message 3: by Abla (new)

Abla | 10 comments That is so true. I was impressed with Micha's parents and coach. I like the way they pushed him to join the sport and encouraged him. This made Micha feel part of a team, and helped his self-esteem. I can imagine how hurtful it is for a child to be excluded and prevented from participating with his or her friends in a sport.
Everyone deserves the same opportunities as anyone else. So i wish the example that Brooke gave of inclusion, would be repeated many times every where.


message 4: by Carito (last edited Oct 12, 2017 08:52AM) (new)

Carito Cuba | 1 comments I am thrilled with the coach's attitude and effort; he made a big difference in Micah's life, and I will like to quote an educator Rita Pierson "all kids deserve to have a champion, and adult that will never will give up on them, to insist on them to become the best they can be, to help them to make the difference"

This is a call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human and personal level.


message 5: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Renner | 16 comments I have very limited experiences with sports, as I was never any good at them, but this speaks to the feeling of being a part of something and connected with your peers. I was very impressed with the coaches who gave Micah the opportunity to participate in a school sport, and the feeling of being a part of the school and his peer group.


message 6: by Angelica (new)

Angelica | 7 comments Brooke wrote: "I love soccer and played since I was very young and through college. I coached a young girls team a few years ago, and one of our players had Autism. I remember being very touched about how inclusi..."
Hi Brooke,
Thank you for sharing your awesome experience. You do not find a lot of team players like the girls you coached. Unfortunately, we live in such a competitive world that if you do not adjust to the norm you automatically get marginalized. It's always good to hear perspectives in which people “go out of their way” to include others. And by going out of their way I mean, having the opportunity to self-reflect, learn from the situation, and find ways to help others succeed. Everyone has a different way of learning and/or expressing their interests. We need to be more open to change. Just like Micha’s coach tried different techniques for him to succeed and did not give up.


message 7: by Claire (new)

Claire | 2 comments It was great to read how inclusive the coach and the cross country team was for Micah. I can only imagine what a relief it was to learn that no “inclusion fight” was needed. Every child at some point needs a cheerleader to push them along and encourage them to do their best. Cross country seemed like a great opportunity for Micah and it highlights the fact that sometimes only small accommodations need to be made for more individuals to participate. Cross country seems like it led to some great friendships for Micah during high school.


message 8: by Cyndi (last edited Oct 16, 2017 09:32AM) (new)

Cyndi Johnson | 15 comments The sports piece is tricky for a child with special health care needs, and for those who also have cognitive challenges, sensory needs, and behavioral issues, sports can seem like an impenetrable fortress. My daughter has fragile health and minimal physical stamina. She also hates the excitement and sensory stimulation at sporting events and makes a run for it every time whether it's avoiding cheers during the event or the team huddle at the end. So, finding team sports that are more individual, quieter, and less physically demanding have been essential to her participation. Special Olympics has been a good alternative, and she enjoys regular gymnastics and small dance classes. I actually wrote a short story about our experience trying to get her into her first dance class, but I'm not sure there is a way to do an attachment on this forum...


message 9: by Leah (new)

Leah | 3 comments Brooke wrote: "I love soccer and played since I was very young and through college. I coached a young girls team a few years ago, and one of our players had Autism. I remember being very touched about how inclusi..."

Brooke,

I have a really similar experience. I played soccer throughout my life as well, and in high school a couple of my teammates and I coached a recreational league. One of the boys on the team had down syndrome, and the rest of the team went out of their way to make him feel included and he had an amazing experience. It's super touching to see that, because I have also seen the opposite happen where a boy in my middle school was banned from participating in a track meet due to his tics caused by Tourettes Syndrome. I think it's really lucky for people to have inclusive experiences in sports, because they do get really competitive, and I hope that situations like the ones I just discussed dissipate and more coaches like Micha's come around.


message 10: by Diane (last edited Oct 19, 2017 05:09PM) (new)

Diane | 3 comments The attitude of the coach can make all of the difference when including players with developmental disabilities on a team. My daughter played volleyball on her grade school team until 6th grade. Parents started making comments about how "some players" were not as skilled as others (their child) and were causing team losses. If the coach had made more of an effort to impress on the parents that all players would get equal playing time, and modeled inclusivity, as Micah's coach did, the parents would not have felt so free expressing their negativity. We chose to enroll in adapted sports after this experience.


message 11: by Felicia (new)

Felicia Foci | 4 comments Carito wrote: "I am thrilled with the coach's attitude and effort; he made a big difference in Micah's life, and I will like to quote an educator Rita Pierson "all kids deserve to have a champion, and adult that ..."

Carito,

I agree! I think an educator that completely invests in the setting the child up to be successful can make a world of difference for years to come.


message 12: by Kristina (new)

Kristina | 7 comments Abla wrote: "That is so true. I was impressed with Micha's parents and coach. I like the way they pushed him to join the sport and encouraged him. This made Micha feel part of a team, and helped his self-esteem..."

Brooke wrote: "I love soccer and played since I was very young and through college. I coached a young girls team a few years ago, and one of our players had Autism. I remember being very touched about how inclusi..."
Clarito, I feel the same way! I think it's very important that every child deserves to have an adult that will stand up for what is right and be that role model. It's not about feeling sorry for these kids but rather making them feel as included as possible.


message 13: by Sara (new)

Sara | 4 comments Cyndi wrote: "The sports piece is tricky for a child with special health care needs, and for those who also have cognitive challenges, sensory needs, and behavioral issues, sports can seem like an impenetrable f..."

It's great that you're being creative in how to get your daughter involved, but still really focusing on her needs and interests!


message 14: by Jessi (new)

Jessi Eckersberg | 7 comments Claire wrote: "It was great to read how inclusive the coach and the cross country team was for Micah. I can only imagine what a relief it was to learn that no “inclusion fight” was needed. Every child at some poi..."

Claire, I agree! I think it's important to know that every child needs someone to be on their side at some point and these children need someone on their side too! It's so important that they feel like people care about them just as much as the rest of the team, which this coach went above and beyond to do.


message 15: by Anna (new)

Anna Merrill | 7 comments This is such a great example of inclusion. In my experience, it is often times coaches or troop leaders or other community members that do the best job in inclusion because they aren't even thinking about the child's disability as a barrier. I love how the coach engaged the family in reasonable problem solving to make the cross country team fun and engaging for Micah as just another member of the team.


message 16: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Tellus | 10 comments I was a dancer growing up, but unfortunately rarely saw the inclusion in the dance world that Michael's coach demonstrated. It was rare to see children with disabilities at the dance studio, especially in the older age groups. Looking back now, I realize there was little acceptance for those who didn't have the optimal flexibility, feet, or body type, so it was surely not an inclusive atmosphere for children with any additional needs. However, Micah's coaches set an incredible example of what all coaches and teachers should strive for when including children with disabilities in sports and extracurricular activities. I love that the coaches really tried to give Micah realistic goals to challenge him, while still making him feel included as a part of the team, without his parents even asking. I think there is a lot of room for growth for inclusion in sports and extracurricular activities and Micah's coaches did a great job modeling what this should look like.


message 17: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Proimos | 12 comments I think the coach was instrumental in Micah's success on the team. I loved that the coach included Micah as a member of the team and made cross country fun for him and his teammates while still challenging Micah to do his best. I also grew up playing soccer, but unfortunately we didn't have anyone with a disability on our team. I also ran a few special needs soccer camps, and some parents have told me horror stories of their experiences. In one case, the child's teammates were all inclusive and didn't draw attention to his difference. However, the coaches told his parents he would need to seek out other options because he wasn't going to be able to keep up with his peers soon. Hearing stories like these is heartbreaking. I hope that there are more coaches like Micah's that will be inclusive and challenge our kiddos to be the best that they can be.


message 18: by Brett (new)

Brett (brettalicia) | 10 comments I love this story. It is such a fantastic example of successful inclusion. It really struck me how the coach saw Micah's individual needs and helped create individual goals. I also loved how when they transitioned to a new coach, the new one was equally inclusive and accepting. While the story does not address it, I wonder about the conversation between the outgoing coach and the incoming coach and what role that played in ensuring a successful transition between coaches for Micah.


message 19: by Meg (new)

Meg | 1 comments I was impressed by the dedication to inclusion shown by both of Micah's cross country coaches. They treated him like any other athlete, assessing his strengths and areas for growth, and then setting appropriate goals. It also sounds like they fostered a team atmosphere of encouragement and support, which is so important for adolescents, with or without special health care needs. I wonder if it might have been more difficult to involve Micah in a group sport rather than an individual one. Would it have been harder to set goals for Micah if he had joined a basketball, soccer or baseball team? How might his performance have affected his teammates? In cross country, (if I understand the scoring correctly) individuals are largely competing against their own best time. Would Micah's coaches have been as successful in their inclusion efforts, or would they have struggled to incorporate him into the sport in the same way his community basketball coaches struggled?


message 20: by Philip (new)

Philip | 3 comments This part of the book was very inspiring as an aspiring healthcare professional. The impact that both coaches had on Micah and the parents was phenomenal to read, and really puts into perspective what Janice is trying to convey in this book. It also shows that it takes more than one individual to lead a change. In the MI-LEND program, we watched a video during one of our face-to-face sessions with a "dancing shirtless guy", and how a pioneer can lead change. In Micah's case, the coaches were instrumental in his cross country journey, but it was the team atmosphere that helped to create the environment in which he could thrive. As with professionals who will be leading a change in an individual's life in the future, it is important to work together as a team in order to best treat and connect with a child and his/her family.


message 21: by Ellyn (new)

Ellyn | 12 comments Diane wrote: "The attitude of the coach can make all of the difference when including players with developmental disabilities on a team. My daughter played volleyball on her grade school team until 6th grade. Pa..."

I think the coaches role is also critical, but I also think that the families of the other team members play an important role too, in how they answer any questions their ablebodied children may have about their teammates with disabilities, and how they talk about their teammates with disabilities. The coach is one voice speaking to the ablebodied children, but their families at home is another important voice that influences kids.


message 22: by Hsiu-Wen (new)

Hsiu-Wen | 7 comments Cyndi wrote: "The sports piece is tricky for a child with special health care needs, and for those who also have cognitive challenges, sensory needs, and behavioral issues, sports can seem like an impenetrable f..."

Hi Cyndi,
I totally agree with you. My research is about promoting physical activities for preschoolers with disabilities. Compared with typically developing children, children with disabilities have more challenges in participating physical activities. How to meet the individual needs, and how to improve staffs' knowledge in accommodating these children are worth discussing.


message 23: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey (lindseyscoso) Brett wrote: "I love this story. It is such a fantastic example of successful inclusion. It really struck me how the coach saw Micah's individual needs and helped create individual goals. I also loved how when t..."

Hi Brett,

I definitely agree! I loved this example of inclusion and also wondered about the conversation between coaches. I think it made an enormous difference in continuing Micah's success and I am so glad the new coach was equally supportive!


message 24: by Esther (new)

Esther Are | 7 comments Micah's experience with cross country is very similar to mine and volleyball. My volleyball coach knew what I was capable of and always expected me to go above and beyond what was expected of me. I was very impressed with Micah's coaches and hope that there are more coaches and individuals without disabilities who will advocate for those with disabilities to be included.


message 25: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten Harold | 10 comments Deanna wrote: "I think the coach was instrumental in Micah's success on the team. I loved that the coach included Micah as a member of the team and made cross country fun for him and his teammates while still cha..."

I completely agree that the Coach was instrumental in Micah's success in the team. It takes more special people like him to make this world a better place. Growing up we had a girl with Down Syndrome, Anna, that lived on our street. Even though we didn't play sports together, all the kids in our neighborhood would frequently play tag or other games outside, especially in the summer. It was difficult at first to include Anna in some of the games but somehow we all managed to work together and have her play with us. I never really gave this experience in my childhood much thought until i read about Micah's experience.


message 26: by Torie (new)

Torie | 7 comments Ellyn wrote: "Diane wrote: "The attitude of the coach can make all of the difference when including players with developmental disabilities on a team. My daughter played volleyball on her grade school team until..."

I strongly agree with you! The families and other players involved have a lot of influence on the environment. The coach did a great job creating such a positive environment for Micah, and inclusion for other students. I think with a good coach, they can help the families and players become more supportive of inclusion as well. Some sports are set up to be more individualized such as cross country, tennis, track, etc. that could be "easier" for coaches to support inclusion and keep extremely completive parents/players content.


message 27: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Lambrecht | 8 comments Diane wrote: "The attitude of the coach can make all of the difference when including players with developmental disabilities on a team. My daughter played volleyball on her grade school team until 6th grade. Pa..."

Hi Diane! I resonate with your comment- I remember being on the track team in middle school and running a relay race with a girl who had a neurodevelopmental disability. Parents of other kids on the relay team were upset that their kid didn't "get to shine" because the overall time was slowed down by this girl. I remember feeling irked by overhearing their comments.
American culture, especially in sports, often values individualism. Even in team sports, there is a lot of focus and pressure on individual performance. If parents, especially, would shift their values to focus on how their child learning to work with teammates of all abilities, I think that is a much more incredibly valuable learning experience than keeping constant a individual score.
Micah's coach and team seemed like such a great support for him, and had an innate understanding of inclusivity. I think if more coaches were like Micah's we could truly transform a lot of kids' high school experiences, both those with and without disabilities.


message 28: by Zoë (new)

Zoë Cooper | 4 comments Torie wrote: "Ellyn wrote: "Diane wrote: "The attitude of the coach can make all of the difference when including players with developmental disabilities on a team. My daughter played volleyball on her grade sch..."

Hi Torie! Sifting through the comments on this post I was looking for someone to note the importance of parental advocacy in situations like Micah's with cross country. In the book, the author notes that she always insisted that the coach set high expectations for Micah and remained a fierce advocate for his inclusion. I'm glad to see you touched on this!


message 29: by Hanna (new)

Hanna Nebel | 4 comments Brooke wrote: "I love soccer and played since I was very young and through college. I coached a young girls team a few years ago, and one of our players had Autism. I remember being very touched about how inclusi..."

Brooke, it was great reading your experience coaching teams with a child with ASD. I have worked on an ABA team and it took quite some time convincing the child's mom to sign the boy up for recreational sports. However, once signed up he did so great and watching him engage with his fellow teammates was wonderful. Like you said, it was like his teammates had been taught the only option was inclusion.


message 30: by Becky (new)

Becky Barron | 7 comments Brooke wrote: "I love soccer and played since I was very young and through college. I coached a young girls team a few years ago, and one of our players had Autism. I remember being very touched about how inclusi..."

This resonated with me a lot as well. My brother who has Autism is a fantastic runner naturally, and he was on his high school cross country team. I was always amazed by how supportive his teammates were and how much they included him in activities not just within practices and events, but also outside of the sport like pasta dinners and going to haunted houses together. When he decided to quit cross country, nobody judged him and everyone was supportive of his next goals and what he wanted to do.


message 31: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Montbriand | 7 comments Cyndi wrote: "The sports piece is tricky for a child with special health care needs, and for those who also have cognitive challenges, sensory needs, and behavioral issues, sports can seem like an impenetrable f..."

Cyndi,
I think it is awesome that you are finding different alternatives to include your child in physical activity and group sports! Every child is different, regardless of individual struggles, and it is so important to find something that works for each one. When they find something they truly enjoy it is so rewarding to see.


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