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Autistic spectrum disorder and hockey

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11-30-2013, 10:31 AM
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Capsman
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Autistic spectrum disorder and hockey

I'm hoping some of you more experienced players and coaches can tell me a little bit about your experience with or knowledge of hockey players with autistic spectrum disorder (high functioning). My nephew, who has high functioning ASD, is 7 and has been playing hockey for 3+ years. He is skating with kids two to three years older because he is such an advanced skater and puck handler that his coaches wanted him doing higher level stick and puck drills. His weakness is in the competitive aspect of the game, aggressively going after pucks and not feeling like other kids are "being mean" when he is checked, etc. I have read online (for what it is worth) that there have been a couple NHL goalies with ASD, one of whose name was T. Mac (I have no clue who that is outside of basketball). My sister-in-law said she read that hockey seems to be especially suited for kids with ASD (perhaps the goalie position more than others). Do any of you have experience coaching kids with ASD or know of successful youth or college players with it?

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12-02-2013, 05:55 AM
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Otter
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Interesting question. I don't have any answers but I was thinking you might want to try posting this on the main NHL forum so a broader audience can see it.

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12-02-2013, 11:29 AM
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HunterSThompson
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http://www.voanews.com/content/autis...m/1799365.html

http://autism-light.blogspot.com/201...af-kolzig.html

The only people that would fit a t mac would be Joey MacDonald and Curtis McElhinney in recent memory, albeit not perfectly.

Tom McCollum is in the AHL with Grand Rapids.


Last edited by HunterSThompson: 12-02-2013 at 11:43 AM.
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12-02-2013, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter View Post
Interesting question. I don't have any answers but I was thinking you might want to try posting this on the main NHL forum so a broader audience can see it.
Or potentially "The Rink" subforum, because I believe guys who coach teams post there.

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12-02-2013, 02:39 PM
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Thanks guys, I'll try those venues. It's really interesting how I watched him practice the other day and he does drills like he was born to play hockey. Tremendous skater, fastest and most fluid of the kids. Puck never leaves his stick. Then when he scrimmages he gets dominated; slow to react to loose pucks, gets to pucks first but the other player always ends up with it. Hard to say whether it's just a maturity issue or if it's the ceiling ASD places on him. The other kids are totally into it, have their hockey idols, want to play like their heroes. He really could give a rat's behind, lol. But if he had his druthers he would be sitting at home playing video games all day or fantasizing about garbage trucks, so his parents are happy he's playing hockey whether he likes it or not. Love that kid.

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12-02-2013, 03:58 PM
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I work with a lot of people on the spectrum, including young adults, and have tutored borderline-Autistic engineering students before ...and I've been playing hockey since the age of four, but the two worlds have never intersected.

What I can tell you is that my experiences have been that there's no "ceiling" on people with ASD, but usually they take longer to learn less algorithmic things like social skills or reading a play in hockey(?) as opposed to procedural things like math or a power skating stride. Also, once they learn something, they're better at it than most people. He'd probably thrive with a coach who explains some of those aspects of the game procedurally, and have a frustrating time with a coach who doesn't impose structure. Although as long as he's enjoying himself who really cares.

Honestly, whenever I hear #87 talk, I think he's pretty high on the Autism spectrum.

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12-02-2013, 04:10 PM
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Liberati0n
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I'm not qualified to say anything about the subject really, but what I would do if I were trying to help the kid is try to filter the more emotional/social aspects of the game through his terminology/conceptualization of the world. I think this is kind of what PuckBuddy is getting at. Again, I know nothing, but I would expect that trying to make him conceptualize competitiveness or something like that the way other people do would be futile, but I think he could probably come to a new understanding of how something like that works "procedurally," as PB put it.

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12-02-2013, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberati0n View Post
I'm not qualified to say anything about the subject really, but what I would do if I were trying to help the kid is try to filter the more emotional/social aspects of the game through his terminology/conceptualization of the world. I think this is kind of what PuckBuddy is getting at. Again, I know nothing, but I would expect that trying to make him conceptualize competitiveness or something like that the way other people do would be futile, but I think he could probably come to a new understanding of how something like that works "procedurally," as PB put it.
I think you guys are absolutely correct. I'm a pediatrician with a special interest in development, but I am admittedly clueless about how their characteristics translate to sports. While they can be very coordinated in things like playing musical instruments, they often aren't the best athletes. It's easy to simplify it as "they are clumsy", but that's not always the case. In academics they tend to prefer rote topics and learning but struggle with more abstract or creative concepts. In a sport like hockey, there is an element of creativity, spontaneity, and "horse sense" that I imagine doesn't come naturally to them. It may be that he will need to pretty much experience every scenario on the ice and rationalize how to deal with it.

Puckdaddy, I feel dumb for asking this , but who is #87? I'm blanking out.

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12-02-2013, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Capsman View Post
Puckdaddy, I feel dumb for asking this , but who is #87? I'm blanking out.
Sid Crosby?

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12-02-2013, 06:40 PM
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Sid Crosby?
Doh! I was thinking of someone on the Caps, that why it didn't click, lol.

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