Parents consider friendship development of their children with special needs to be very important. When Overton and Rausch (2002) interviewed mothers of children with disabilities, ages 5 to 11 years old, about important goals for their children’s social development, the mothers said they considered having a best friend or a close friend to be one of the most important aspects of the child’s social development and well-being.
One of the most powerful and unique aspects of E-Sports that parents appreciate is the role of our typical junior (or “peer”) coaches who participate right alongside their peers with special needs. These typical coaches often work one-on-one assisting a peer with an identified need (autism, etc.) and have a powerful influence in their development, both athletically and socially. As typical kids volunteer their time, energy, and heart to help coach their special need peers like this, the parents should be equally invested in helping them succeed by forming a great alliance. Often the friendship developed between the child and typical peer coach becomes lasting and goes far beyond the E-Soccer field, E-Karate dojo, or E-Hoops court.
The following is just a short list of “starter areas” a parent and peer coach can discuss for insights into best helping the child succeed:
Previous sports experience (not only amount and level of participation, but also level of enjoyment)
Likes and dislikes
Since parents are the veritable “storehouse” of knowledge and secrets to how their kids tick, they should “touch base” regularly on how things are going, before, during, and/or after sessions. Working together this way produces the “great alliance”. So many parents at E-Sports are deeply grateful for the heart and desire of the junior coaches who work with their kids. These young coaches are real heroes to the parents and our entire program!