Taylor Duncan, a 25-year-old from Dallas, Georgia, has autism. That however is not what he's known for. He is also the commissioner/director of the Alternative Baseball Organization. The ABO is a 501c3 authentic baseball experience for teens 15+ and adults with autism and other disabilities to gain social and physical skills for success in life both on and off the diamond. It takes about 6 months to fill a full team due to the lack of catered services available in most areas for teens and adults with disabilities.
In spite of the pandemic, recruitment for 2021 has begun virtually. There is a need for a volunteer coach/manager, other volunteers, and players to help start new programs serving those in Vinton and the surrounding areas. In addition, there are other Midwest programs in Rochester (MN), Columbus (OH), Wayne County/Detroit (MI), South Bend (IN), Indianapolis, Jeffersonville (IN), Evansville, Louisville, Beloit/Janesville, Wausau and others tentatively set to start in late Spring-summer 2021. The difference from other programs is that these teams travel to other areas, play on traditional high school size fields, and play using the same rule-set as the pros on television. The organization provides equipment and resources to help such a program become successful.Duncan explains, "When I was much younger, I had speech issues, anxiety issues, and more that came with having autism. I wasn't able to participate in competitive sports due to developmental delays., in addition to social stigma (preconceived ideas) from those who think what one with autism can and cannot accomplish. With the help of my mom, teachers, mentors, and coaches who believed in me, I've gotten to where I am today in my life: To live with the goal to inspire, raise awareness, and acceptance for autism and special needs globally through the sport of baseball."
He went on to explain, "Many with autism graduate from high school in many areas, services plateau. In a lot of suburban and rural areas, there are no services for those to continue their path toward independence. Some have to travel to find the limited services which may or may not be available to their specific needs. Realizing a lack of general incentive and opportunities for those on the spectrum, I started this organization to give others on the spectrum/special needs the opportunity to be accepted for who they are and to be encouraged to be the best they can be!"
The program follows Major League rules (wood bats, base stealing, dropped third strike, etc.), and is a true typical team experience for others on the autism spectrum and special needs to help develop social skills for later in life. Alternative Baseball also has clubs in 30+ states who are also preparing for their late Spring start dates.
In 2019, the organization was commemorated as a Community Hero at an Atlanta Braves game and has been featured on ESPN's BASEBALL TONIGHT and NBC's Weekday TODAY Show.
To begin, we must find a coach/manager and volunteers. Players can be of all experience levels. The organization takes the players from where they start whether they require to be pitched to slow overhand or hit off the tee and helps develop physical and social skills.
If you would like see a segment from ESPN's Baseball Tonight click here: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=23353934. Duncan also provided a link to his TedXAtlanta talk on providing more opportunities in and outside of sports for those with autism and other special needs which can be seen at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0RGXug-WV4)
If you are interested in the program or playing, go to the following link: www.alternativebaseball.org, fill out the appropriate forms for players, volunteers, coach/managers or umpires and your information will be submitted.
Individuals who want to manage and spearhead a local team can also set a phone appointment on the site.