With this week being the time of the Special Olympic Summer Games in Athens, I thought I would comment on the importance of sport in young peoples lives, particularly for those with Learning Disabilities.

When my son was first (and wrongly) diagnosed with "Mental Retardation" at the age of three, I was told that he had no eye - hand coordination and would never be able to play sports that involved using that skill.

So, we played baseball with him, badminton, tennis, and five pin bowling. He has played bocce, basketball and has gone skiing. He has played football and street hockey. Hmmmm...... but they said he couldn't! Oh and did I mention he can swim and plays pool? Oh, and at the moment he is not playing badminton for a while but has just got three kickboxing belts in a mainstream club!

My son has had bowling trophies, (from playing with mainstream teams), football trophies, mainstream again. He achieved Gold standard at tennis lessons and played Badminton for the West Midlands at the UK Special Olympics in Leicester two years ago and played for England in Four Nations Tournaments. He has the gold, silver and bronze medals to prove it.

I have been following the Special Olympics in Athens and team GB is doing so well. They are coping with heat, severe tummy bugs, and rioting. They are doing Great Britain proud.

Thank goodness he has since been correctly diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's Syndrome and am I glad I didn't take "their" word for it and not let him try anything!

If anyone has a chance to support their local Special Olympics, please go for it and check out the amazing skills of these athletes who are as deserving of their medals as those in the ordinary and Para Olympics but get no lottery funding to support them.


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