One of the myths surrounding Autism (or Asperger’s if you prefer) is that Autistics/Aspies aren’t sporty. Some people believe that Autistics are too slow and bumbling to play sports correctly or that Aspies are too geeky and anal to kick a ball around. These negative stereotypes can be harmful to those spectrumites who do enjoy sports of all descriptions and especially those who are great at them.
Some might even hear “oh you can’t be Autistic/Aspie because you’re great at (insert sport)”. This can leave a person feeling frustrated and misunderstood.
There are plenty of Autistics who love sports and there are plenty of Autistics who hate sports, just like there are plenty of non-autistics who love sports and plenty who hate sports. As a child I was one of the sporty types. I could run well, loved to kick a ball around and was fairly good at badminton and swimming. I was willing to try almost any sport, despite struggling with depth perception and motor skills.
There are many different sports, some which may be better for certain Autistics and some which certain Autistics really struggle to do. Every Autistic is different so what works for one may not work for another. Sports are great for all humans though as they help develop motor skills, muscles/toning, hand-eye coordination, reflexes, social skills and team working skills amongst many other things. Sports are a great way to relieve stress, helpful for managing depression and basic health. Even if a person struggles with most sports, something simple like swimming or walking can be beneficial. Some Autistics don’t even play sport but still have a keen interest in them, after all, how many people watch football or the Olympics on TV without ever playing them themselves.
There are sports which don’t require much activity physically such as chess or darts. I know a few Autistics who do weightlifting as a sport, this is brilliant for developing muscle tone to help with everyday activities. Yoga and TaiChi can teach calming techniques and mental control which can be very beneficial for some Autistics. Some sports, like dance, can even be a form of stimming, and we all know how helpful that is.
So just because a person plays sports doesn’t mean they can’t be Autistic. Sports can be a great thing for Autistics, no matter their level of ability and skill. It should be encouraged, especially at the individual’s preference and own pace.