Quick Reference: Coaching a Child With Autism / Asperger’s Syndrome

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.

Unique Challenges in E-Soccer:

  • Insistence on sameness; resistance to change; difficulty with transitions
  • Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Tantrums
  • Difficult in mixing with others
  • Possible aversions to touch (i.e. coach or players) or textures (i.e. grass)
  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods: strong visual learners
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills
  • Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range.

Key Coaching Points:

  • Verbal instruction!!! They must see it to get it. Can I teach this without words?
  • Consistent routine (drills, players, location) will decrease my anxiety. Have clearly defined beginning and end of drills.
  • Smooth and quick transitions. Give forewarning of change.
  • Respect sensory sensitivities (may not wear jersey, may not touch grass)
  • Extra Visual boundaries (especially for “runners” who will leave field)
  • Often need extra repetition to gain motor skills.
  • Abstract concepts difficult – Do they understand offense/defense? Positions?