Baseball group helps these with autism

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IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO (East Idaho News) – What began to help people with autism participate in after-school programs or community organizations has grown into a statewide sports program in 33 states.

Now they want to come to East Idaho and they need locals to help them.

The Alternative Baseball Organization started five years ago, but for CEO Taylor Duncan, its purpose has been a part of his life since childhood.

Duncan was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. During his childhood and youth education, schools offered assistance programs to help him with language, sensory and anxiety problems. However, after graduation, everything seemed to change.

For many, government services working with people with special needs cease after they finish high school or when they turn 18.

“They don’t have the services to continue their journey toward independence,” Duncan told “A disability does not magically go away after 18.”

So he came up with a plan. Duncan enjoyed playing baseball, but felt that the social stigma of autism prevented him from playing traditional sports on a team as a child.

“All of this was due to the negative perceptions of others,” he said. “But with my positive experiences (playing baseball), I decided it was time to pass that experience on to others.”

That was the beginning of the Alternative Baseball Organization. They provide an enhanced baseball experience for teens and adults aged 15 and over who have autism or other disabilities. There is no maximum age to join the team.

“Everyone is accepted for who they are and encouraged to be the best they can be and build the trust necessary to fulfill dreams in life on and off the baseball diamond,” said Duncan.

In the past five years, the Alternative Baseball Organization has touched 33 states with 80 teams, including one in Boise. Right now they want to come to the East Idaho area to give Boise a team to compete with.

It all starts with a trainer / manager for the team. Duncan saw them come in all shapes and sizes.

“I have seen that many of the best coaches are often experienced with baseball and with disabilities. (But) a lot of the best often don’t, ”he said. “They just show patience and a willingness to learn as much as possible about how to exercise to the best of their ability.”

In Duncan’s eyes, it’s about being a role model. He saw the impact that executives’ trust in the Alternative Baseball Organization can have on people with disabilities.

“When we’re out there to be encouraged, it’s almost limitless,” he said. “That trust will often affect the baseball diamond as well, because it’s really about giving them those opportunities. Those who have this confidence will often want to find employment. “

Duncan has seen players with autism find the confidence to find work, learn to drive, and help their friends and family after being part of the organization.

In addition to coaches / managers, the Alternative Baseball Organization is looking for other volunteers, referees and of course at least 12 players to form the Eastern Idaho team.

When teams are formed, the organization wants to involve the community. They usually have community input on team names and branding. They are known to have events where the baseball team plays a game against local authorities, police, firefighters, etc. to show support and encouragement.

As a rule, after the official formation of the team, the organization has exercises or games once a week.

If you’re interested in coaching, volunteering, or playing in a team, or if you know someone who might be, visit the Alternative Baseball Organization’s website for buttons to sign up for either the coach or the game . If you have trouble filling out the form yourself, seek help from the Contact Us tab or call (770) 313-1762. Duncan will help you sign up.

“We have an opportunity here to just get out there and have success and get out there and have fun,” said Duncan. “That’s why I call it a baseball experience.”

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