Cindy Ring, MSW, LSW
Expert Name:  Cindy Ring, MSW, LSW
Expert Title: MSW, LSW
Company Name:  Step By Step Inc.
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Cindy is a clinical administrative associate with Step By Step Inc. Her responsibilities include designing research studies, protocols and evaluation tools, data collection and analysis and writing and editing grants and reports. Cindy is a member of the National Psychology Honor Society and a licensed social worker. She holds an MSW in Social Work Administration from Ohio State University, a BS in Psychology from Wright State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Forensic Psychology from Walden University.

How Do I Get My Child or Teen Involved in Sports?

Children and teens often naturally gravitate to playing sports.  It is good for them for many reasons:
- Socialization
- Team and friendship building
- Good health; Gross motor workout
- Learning to win and lose gracefully
- Great self-esteem builder
- Often a lifelong hobby or leisure skill

So, that’s great, you may say, but how do I find all these awesome sports leagues that my child or teen with autism can be a part of?  Here are several tips about how to find autism friendly sports leagues and teams:
1. Do an internet search- your best bet to start is a search of the internet.  Try keywords such as: special needs sports teams and your area, autism and sports leagues or simply use the keyword of the sport your child is interested in coupled with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, etc.
2. Talk to your local sports groups or teams - see if they already have or are willing to start an organized group of kids/teens with autism and their typical peers in a unified sports league- many great special needs sports leagues have been started by dedicated parents just like you and sports loving kids and teens just like yours!
3. See if they already exist - many areas have Miracle League baseball teams, special ice hockey teams, soccer teams, special needs football and basketball camps, etc.
4. Look at local Special Olympics organizations - if your child or teen has an intellectual disability, he or she can participate in Special Olympics (age 6 and up to train; age 8 and up to compete).  Check out those organizations- usually they are affiliated with a school or center in the area.
5. Look into the local YMCA - they often have sports camps and teams for children and teens with autism.
6. Get your local colleges involved.  See if there are students who may need credit toward adapted PE or special ed degrees who may help you organize this effort.  Students are often more than willing to help get things started and volunteer.
7. Get a neighborhood league going - get the neighbor’s children and teens to help organize a neighborhood league that plays every weekend or some evenings.

All children and teens should have the opportunity to play sports and be on sports teams!  It is a vital part of being a kid; a mom and a dad (remember those team pictures in 90-degree weather and the coolers and coolers of soda pop)!  Hopefully these tips will make your search easier as you work on finding your young athlete a place to show off his or her stuff!