How To Teach Flag Football to a 7 yr old with Aspergers

Our son is 7 and had been begging us to let him play Flag Football for over a year now.   He was diagnosed with Aspergers a little over 6 months ago and has been making great progress with his therapies so I was hesitant to rock the boat and make any changes.  But both my husband and I think it is important for him to play team sports so we agreed to let him play flag instead of baseball this year. 

Yesterday was the first practice and today was the first game and I think I am a little over my head.  I was worried about him getting hurt and a potential meltdown and completely overlooked the complexity of the game.

Silly me thought he would be somewhat prepared as he played capture the flag at school in PE and that we’ve played catch with him many times before.  Today was a reminder that I need a checklist for new sports, so that I can better prepare him in the future.  Here are just a few things that I learnt. 

I should buy a soft mouth guard.  The cheap, hard plastic one I picked up at the fields which was a bad choice.  It chaffed and cut his mouth and was extremely uncomfortable to wear with his sensory processing issues.  Just watching him I could tell it was annoying and made it more difficult for him to concentrate. 

We need to teach him about plays and positions.  With the noise at the fields and the fast pace he wasn’t able to process everything at the speed he wanted.  He got frustrated during the second half of the game when they played more offense as he wanted to get a turn with the ball.

We need to show him what yards look like so he understands when the coach says “run 5 yards that way then turn”.

I need to find out from the coach what he’s meant to do when another team member takes his position in a play.

We need to come up with some positive seeds to sow with him.  I am great with positive seeds for academics but like a fish out of water when it comes to sports. 

Being a very visual learner I decided to stop by the local library after the game to look for books on flag football.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any, so we picked up a regular football book with great pictures to try and explain the plays a little better.

Tomorrow I’m going to sit him down in front of the computer and let him watch as many YouTube videos of i9 Flag Football as he wants.

We’re also trying to get some older boys (family and friends) to come to the park with us to teach him some plays.. slowly…

I’m quite sure I’ve overlooked something and that’s OK.  As one area of the game starts making sense to him another layer will most likely present itself and we’ll come up with another plan.

Do you have any suggestions on how to help our son understand and enjoy Flag Football?

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2 thoughts on “How To Teach Flag Football to a 7 yr old with Aspergers

  1. I’d like to take a crack at this though you know the specifics of your son’s Asperger Syndrome than I. Football would be a difficult sport to play because of all the positions and various plays.

    I liked your idea of the I9 video’s but liked the park idea even more. One question I have: “Does the coach have a firm grip on your child’s condition?”

    Ideally, I’d like your child to play a position where there was a bit of a routine. In football, this would be very difficult but I am wondering about tight end. On defense, I would guess defensive end would be a safe choice.

    Another idea would be to teach him a specific skill in football he could practice and repeat. Blocking comes to my mind as a possibility depending on the rules of the league.

    Though your child may never be the star quarterback, there’s no reason he can’t try a sport he likes and I applaud you and your husband for giving him the opportunity.

    I’m very curious as to how this turns out. Please consider contacting me when you have more information at the email address I left. In the mean time, maybe I’ll come up with another idea.

    All the best to you and your family!!!

    Clayton Thomas recently posted..Achieveing a New Years Resolution

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