In today's 6 For Your Health headlines... A sports league developed for children with autism. It allows those kids to participate in a variety of sports without fear of bullying or teasing. Doctor Bruce Hensel explains.
This is the Autism Youth Sports League. It's a place where kids are accepted.
"I do the block."
Where they know others will understand.
Omar Haq, league participant: "I'm meeting a lot of good friends here."
Lora Mancini started the league and says it's the opportunity to socialize, that is so challenging and necessary for kids with autism.
Lora Mancini, founder of the Autism Youth Sports League: "We allow these kids to continue friendships. Make new friendships which a lot of them don't have outside the home or the school."
Manuel Zapata is the coach and president of the league, which has expanded rapidly from 50 kids to 200 kids in the last year. The programs are designed with their abilities in mind.
Manuel Zapata, president of the Autism Youth Sports League: "At one point in one of our meetings we said why are we stopping with baseball? So we didn't, we went from baseball, to bowling, to martial arts."
Joann Ramos brought her son Omar to the league after she saw our first report.
Joann Ramos, mother of league participant: "His focus has improved and his socialization skills. He carries on spontaneous conversations where he never did before."
Mario Ramos, martial arts participant: "I do the kicks and I do other sports like bowling."
Blanca Haq says her son Omar tried mainstream leagues, but other kids would bully him. She says the league is a supportive environment in which her son can grow.
Blanca Haq, mother of league participant: "This has brought up an opportunity for my son not to be judged."
Lora Mancini: "We need to push them. And we do, we did not disable these children. Autism does not have them. They have autism. It does not define them."
Omar Haq: "I'll continue until I make it to the best belt of the world."