Oliver Pratley is following in the steps of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps

A Notts teenager with Down’s Syndrome has followed in the footsteps of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps by being fitted with a Speedo Olympic swimming suit.

Oliver Pratley, 15, could not even swim three years ago but now he’s making waves in the swimming world, breaking several world records.The teenager has been given two pairs of £130 ($201) Speedo LZR racer jammer shorts which he will wear in the Down’s Syndrome Championships in Taiwan in September, where he will represent Britain.

Oliver was given a tour of Speedo in Ascot Road, Nottingham, and was shown around the Aqualab where the latest innovations in swimming attire are developed.

After squeezing into the tight shorts, the Blidworth teenager gave his verdict: “What can I say? They make me feel like a professional. Other people will think I’m the real deal in them.”

via Oliver Pratley is following in the steps of Rebecca Adlington and Michael Phelps.

Elgin’s Winfred Cooper honored as inspiration to teens with autism

Winfred Cooper of Elgin, Ill., was honored over the weekend by the HollyRod Foundation at a Los Angeles red-carpet event where Holly Robinson Peete said he is an inspiration to teens with autism. You may be one of the thousands of people who saw Cooper’s amazing touchdown at a high school football game last fall. He’s now in college in Elgin.

Calling him an inspiration to teens with autism, the HollyRod4kids Foundation honored Elgin’s Winfred Cooper with its Champion Award this past weekend.

The awards were given out at a large, celebrity-filled fundraising gala called DesignCare, held at billionaire businessman Ron Burkle’s estate in Beverly Hills.

After walking the red carpet into the party, Cooper, 19, and his father, Winfried, met several celebrities, including Marcus Allen, Sugar Ray Leonard and Samuel L. Jackson. They also spent time with the foundation’s founders, actress Holly Robinson Peete and NFL star Rodney Peete.

via Daily Herald | Elgin’s Winfred Cooper honored as inspiration to teens with autism.

Florida teen swims his way to 2011 Special Olympics in Greece

The sky is spitting an afternoon shower as Michael Tuason arrives for practice at the New Port Richey Rec Center pool with his mom. The tall, lanky teenager greets his waiting dad with a brief “hi,” then quickly strips to his bathing suit and tucks his black, shoulder-length hair under his navy blue cap.

Before long, the star of the Pasco Piranhas Special Olympics swim team is in the water, ready to go.

“How many?” Michael, 18, asks his coach, Rita Miller.

She barely gets out, “Give me 20,” before he’s off, swimming the freestyle and easily lapping the two other swimmers sharing the lane.

“Just look at him go,” Miller says, “He won’t stop till he’s done all 20 laps and then he’ll ask me again, ‘How many?’

“Now you see why he’s going to the World Games.”

via Autistic Pasco County teen swims his way to 2011 Special Olympics in Greece – St. Petersburg Times.

Spanish soccer coach fulfills son with Down syndrome’s wish

The coach of Spain’s world champion soccer team, Vicente del Bosque, is a man of few words and gestures. However, last week he experienced one of the most emotional moments of his life when he fulfilled the dream of his 21 year-old son Alvaro, who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, by allowing him to hold up the World Cup trophy to the applause of the team.

“My son changed my life,” Del Bosque has said on more than one occasion. Alvaro is his second son, and Del Bosque learned that he had Down’s Syndrome several weeks after his birth. “At first we cried a lot,” he told author Gemma Herrero for her book, “39 Stories of Solidarity Surrounding Sports,” but he added, “Now when I look back I think, we were so foolish.”

via Spanish soccer coach fulfills wish for Down’s Syndrome son :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Autism and Summer: Summer Special Olympics

Nearly 3,000 athletes with autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are headed to Nebraska for the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games.

The Summer Games July 18-23 in Lincoln will feature athletes competing in 13 sports -  including swimming, soccer, track & field, bowling, golf, bocce, volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, powerlifting and  softball.

Organizers have erected a Special Olympics Town for the athletes, 1,000 coaches and 15,000 friends and family members expected to attend.

One feature – a 20-foot-long memory wall where people can write tributes to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died last year.

While this national event is huge – and the world Special Olympics next year in Athens will be even bigger, Special Olympics events are held nationwide and around the world.  (Sixteen Special Olympics soccer players showed the world just how talented they are during the World Cup.)  At any level, as the athletes compete, they change attitudes about intellectual disabilities, and they become more confident and empowered.

Do you have a family member competing in the Special Olympics? Everyone’s a winner in these Games!

via Pershing to be Special Olympics Town.

Autism and karate: An autistic teen’s black belt

Wondering about the benefits of martial arts for children with autism? Read this story about a teenager in North Carolina who gained enormous confidence along with his black belt. Congratulations, Nick! (And congratulations to his parents for finding an activity that suited him and that he grew passionate about.)

If you met Nick Talent four years ago, he probably didn’t look you in the eye.

Shy, muted, insecure – for most 14-year-olds, those traits come with the territory.

Nick has autism.

Now he’s 18.

Extend your hand, and he’ll shake it.

Look him in the eye, and you’ll meet his gaze.

Smile and give small talk, and he’ll do the same.

Throw a punch, though, and you’ll find yourself on the ground.

Just ask his karate instructor.

via Autism didn’t knock out this athlete.

Autism and Summer: Sports and autistic children

Sports  have  many benefits for autistic children — exercise, structure and, of course, fun!

But many children with autism don’t do well on athletic teams. If communication or social issues are keeping your autistic child on the sidelines, think about individual sports this summer.

Skateboarding has really caught on in the autism community, thanks in part to the work of the A.skate Foundation, which holds clinics nationwide.

Swimming is an important skill for your child to learn — and some communities even offer swimming lessons for children with autism.

Your autistic child may also enjoy tennis, martial arts or hiking.

Skateboarding, hiking, karate…. or Little League? Does your autistic child do better with solo sports? Any recommendations on good sports for children with autism?

Boy with autism, Down syndrome will throw first pitch at Red Sox game

A Maine boy with autism and Down syndrome will throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park in Boston Tuesday, disability awareness night. Go Jackson! (And go Red Sox!)

Jackson Hickey will be on the mound Tuesday night at Fenway Park, not as a replacement for the battered Red Sox staff but to throw out the first pitch.

The 11-year-old from West Gardiner will be center stage on disability awareness night prior to Boston’s game against Tampa Bay. Jackson’s mother, Jayne, entered her son’s name into a contest promoted by Exceptional Parents Magazine and got a response within 24 hours.

“I filled out (a form) and I saw the Red Sox were an option,” she said. “I said ‘I’d really like to make his dream come true.’ ”

The magazine honors a special family each year and selected the Hickeys for their compelling story.

via West Gardiner boy to throw out 1st pitch at Fenway | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME.

Golfers play 42 courses in 24 hours for Alzheimer’s charity

We’ve seen a lot of golf fundraisers for Alzheimer’s — but this is fundraiser in northeast England is a lot of golf for Alzheimer’s!

FORTY two courses, 365 miles, 24 hours – that’s the novel challenge facing four plucky golfers.

Peter Simpson and three golfing buddies are aiming to play a hole at every course in Northumberland today.

Peter, the full-time manager and secretary at Alnmouth Golf Club, has organised the challenge to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society, after his 87- year-old mum Florence suffered from dementia prior to her death last year.

via JournalLive – News – Today’s News – Golfers to play 42 courses in 24 hours for Alzheimer’s charity.

It’s National Go Skateboarding Day! Take an autistic child skateboarding

The A.skate Foundation named today National Go Skateboarding Day, with the hope that skateboarders and others will take a child with autism skateboarding.

Skateboarding can be a great sport for some autistic kids – even if they never get beyond sitting on their boards – because there are no coaches, no teams relying on you and limited social skills required. Check out this ESPN story for some awesome stories about autistic children and skateboarding.

One of our major initiatives this year centers on Go Skateboarding Day. On June 21, skateboarders around the globe will celebrate the pure joy of skateboarding by dropping everything to go skate. On that day, we would love to see skateboarders everywhere make the day even more special by taking a child with autism skateboarding. It’s a crazy idea, but one that’s perfectly suited to skateboarding.

via The A.skate Foundation – National Go Skateboarding Day Campaign.