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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 19,845
Location: Long Island, New York

06 Feb 2019, 4:29 am

Taylor Duncan, 23, loves baseball, so much so, he launched Alternative Baseball in spring 2016, in Dallas, Georgia. He has since turned it into a national organization providing an authentic baseball experience for teens and adults age 15 and up who are on the autism spectrum or have other developmental disabilities. Through Duncan’s expanding league, he is redefining inclusive sports.

Duncan was diagnosed with autism at age 4. He had speech issues and other challenges. He also experienced high levels of anxiety in social situations, which prevented him from participating the same way his peers did and he was bullied at school. One coach told Duncan and his family he did not belong on the baseball team.

“I wasn’t speaking consistent full sentences until well into the first grade,” Duncan told The Mighty. “I wasn’t able to participate in competitive sports due to those developmental delays. By the time I was deemed ready, I faced a lot of social stigma from those who thought they knew what someone with autism can and cannot be capable of.”

The idea to launch Alternative Baseball resulted after Duncan spent a week at a spring training softball camp with pro player Neil Teague. When Duncan heard about the camp, he was unsure he would qualify. He contacted Teague directly, who agreed for Duncan to join, saying he showed real passion for the sport. Duncan enjoyed the week immensely.

“How come there hasn’t been a similar type of experience like this for others on the autism spectrum or with disabilities?” Duncan said he asked his mom on the way home from the camp. “How come there hasn’t been a place for us to learn the physical skills and social skills?”

Duncan told his mom he had found his calling. He wanted to give people in his community something many of them may have been waiting to have access to for a long time. Alternative Baseball was born.

Alternative Baseball currently has 25 teams in cities throughout the United States in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.

Each team sets their own schedule — some play spring and fall, others play summer and fall. Most teams hold weekly practice. Teams that are close by play each other, while the other teams rely on volunteers to make competitive games happen.

By fall 2016, the league played its first annual all-star game against professional baseball players from major and minor leagues. These games now happen twice a year. Duncan’s goal is to host national Alternative Baseball tournaments by 2020.

As the organization grows, Duncan still believes it is important to have someone on the autism spectrum as the force behind Alternative Baseball.

“When I was younger, I’d think something like, ‘If I had a meltdown or was really anxious, what would help me stop, think and turn back around?'” Duncan told The Mighty.

He added that he understands how to communicate and handle some situations that can come up on the field because of personal experience. “A lot of it is just seeing eye-to-eye,” Duncan said.

Duncan also realizes players need encouragement, as many face preconceived ideas and stereotypes regarding autism, oftentimes from their peers, schools and the media. He believes many people still don’t really understand what autism is or how to communicate with someone on the spectrum. It’s important to Duncan that players in his league have a different experience.

If you want to join an Alternative Baseball team, you can fill out a form on the organization’s website. To start a club in your area, you can apply on the website and Duncan’s team will reach out with more details.

Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

"When Establishment figures declare that they’ve changed their mind on free speech and now think there should be less of it, know that they expect the speech that gets throttled to be yours, not theirs.” - Walter Olsen Cato Institute


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Joined: 21 Oct 2013
Age: 30
Gender: Female
Posts: 871
Location: Surrounded by water

15 Feb 2019, 12:40 pm

So it's the same as regular baseball but just with more support and understanding of autism issues?

"There once was a little molecule who dreamed of being part of the crest of a high wave..."
(From the story 'The Little Molecule' - Amazon Kindle, 2013)