MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Taylor Duncan grew up autistic. When he got to high school, he realized he wasn’t getting the same opportunities to play competitive sports like some of his classmates, “Due to people’s perception on what one with autism can and cannot accomplish,” he said.
Four years ago, Duncan created an inclusive league for adults with special needs to play baseball, by the big league rules. Teams are made up of players 15 years and older who have a social disability. He says most have autism, down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, ADD and ADHD.
“Not only are they learning the physical game, but they’re learning the social skills too because a lot of times people with autism have struggles socially fitting in as well as socially communicating to others and that’s where team experience fits in,” Duncan said. “It’s that it teaches them the skills needed to apply themselves toward success in life outside the game.”
At just 24 years old, Duncan has expanded Alternative Baseball to 14 different states over the past four years. There are three programs in Tennessee with hopes to start another in Memphis.
“After they graduate from high school, the number of services drop and in some areas they don’t have anything to go to,” he said. “They have to travel to be able to find something. Therefore, we’re there to fulfill that need for them to continue their path toward independence.”
Duncan found Memphis had a lack of resources for players in the age group. He hopes he can build another community in the Mid-South to learn and grow together.
“The sky is pretty much the limit in what we can do and the results we can provide. But it’s important to power through the perception and put aside the perceptions of what those with disabilities can or cannot accomplish,” said Duncan. “Also, regardless of whatever background you come from or you are, you’re always welcome in our program.”
To get a team started in Memphis, he needs a volunteer coach. You can learn more about Alternative Baseball on the website.