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  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Autism: My Summer Activity Stories With Motor Coordination

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

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It's no secret that I've had motor coordination difficulties over the years because of my autism.


Note: When I talk about team sports in this post, I refer to instances where I would play them outside in warmer weather.


When it comes to summer activities, how did I progress throughout the years with them?


Looking back to summer camps, school gym classes and just regular leisure, I explore many summer activities and how my autism contributed to difficulties.


Team sports


Baseball


When I was 13, my father's company had a work function where we played baseball. Plus, when I attended camp in 2010 and 2011, I would also have fun with baseball.


On these occasions, I had trouble with hand-eye coordination and completely holding the bat firmly, which meant I would always miss at least one strike.


However, when I would strike the ball, I would be pretty good at running bases.


A home run? Not even close, though.


Basketball


In my pre-teen and teen years, I would frequently practice basketball in my driveway and sometimes with neighbours, too. I wasn't particularly good at it, but I enjoyed it.


My shooting skills were alright, but average at best.


However, with getting past the defense, I struggled considerably.


I had a hard time moving my fingers in a way that the defence person on the other team wouldn't get the ball from me.


Football


Elementary School


Of all sports, I was especially reluctant to play football.


I recall in my late elementary years, when gym classes would include football, I had an unusually hard time throwing the ball properly.


However, I did get better at this over time once my teachers, educational assistants and classmates helped me with it.


High School


Fast forward to grade nine, I would get bad anxiety in gym class team sports, with football being a prime example.


Despite this, I once just about stopped a person from the other team from scoring a touchdown. My teammates were amazed with me.


Soccer


Elementary School


In my elementary years, during both recess and gym classes, I could rarely ever get to the ball. Like ever.


Despite my poor motor planning with getting the ball, when we played soccer baseball and I got the chance to kick, I wasn't too bad.


My foot movements, at the time, seemed more coordinated than my hand movements when it came to ball handling.


Camp


Fast forward to 2011, the year I graduated high school, this was my final summer at camp. I sort of discovered a hidden talent..


When I would play soccer with my bunkmates, offense with soccer was still difficult, but I found myself being quite skilled at defense.


Maybe I just got lucky that there weren't particularly athletic offense people on the other team, but I could stop them from getting to the net.


Individual sports


Golfing


Golfing at 13


I played golf for the first time when I was 13 in 2006.


My parents wanted me to get more involved with sports at that time. Therefore, they signed me up for something that wasn't as much as a team sport.


I learned many of the basics, such as good posture and keeping my arms straight.


Keeping my arms straight was a struggle for me, and my hits never went too far, but I still enjoyed golf.

Golfing during the summer
I play golf at Pike Lake Golf Centre Limited in Clifford, Ont. in July 2015 (Photo credit: John Morrison).


Golf Trip Years Later


Nine years later, me, my dad and a few of our neighbours went golfing near our trailer. I had to reteach myself many of the stuff I learned before, but it came somewhat natural to me.


Swimming


Learning to Swim


As I've mentioned in the past, it took me a long time to be fully comfortable in the water as a child.


For some odd reason, however, swimming basics came more naturally to me when I did it outside rather than inside.


That's not to say I never had difficulties, though.


Camp in 2010


In 2010, at 17, when I started camp for the summer, we had to do swimming drills (tests) so instructors can place us in swimming classes for our almost daily sessions.


Part of the test was that if you jumped instead of dived, you had to do a somersault.


I tried to dive because I've been borderline terrified of somersaults growing up, but my feet hit the pool first, so I had to do a somersault.


I didn't do a somersault right away and the swimming instructor (one who tested me) said, "I would like to see you do a somersault."


I tried but had difficulty, especially underwater.


However, my assigned instructor (once we got split into groups) thought I did a decent job. I only needed to work on fully extending my arms (Superman arms) when swimming forward.


Camp in 2011


A year later, I was more confident in the water.


It was to the point where I took part of a swimming event with hundreds of people in the lake, barely breaking a sweat.


Boating and Kayaking


Grade 9 Dragon Boat Event


In late spring 2008 (almost 15 at the time), I took a short trip near Downtown Oakville with the specialized high school program I was in.


We rode a dragon boat on Sixteen Mile Creek, and while I did have some anxiety, I had a good time.


At one point, I couldn't row the boat fast enough, which meant the person in front of me's oars kept hitting mine. From what I remember, quite a few people had this issue, though.


Camp in 2010: Canoe Leader-In-Training Placement


My camp had a program where people in their late teens would be assigned leader-in-training positions to help younger campers with activities such as canoes, ropes, rock climbing and to name a few.


One day, I was assigned to do canoes, which is something I had zero experience in but wanted to put my best foot forward anyway.


During this placement, when I canoed with a couple of campers, the instructor had to remind me to put my hand on the handle as I temporarily forgot to.


The counsellor still gave me a decent evaluation despite these issues.


Kayaking at Camp


Kayaking came more naturally to me than rowing.


This is probably because I was the only one in the boat, and therefore, I didn't have to keep up with the pace of others trying to move it.


My bunk counsellors took note that this was an activity I especially enjoyed.


Despite no issues kayaking then, I sort of changed my mind about it later thanks to a horror story my parents had when they went on vacation years later.


Outdoor Playground Equipment


Monkey Bars


In my younger years, I had a hard time with monkey bars to the point where I was afraid of them.


In particular, I could never get past the first several bars without having a near anxiety attack over falling.


Over time, I got over this, though (probably nine or 10).


Applying this to motor coordination, it was making sure my fingers would quickly and firmly grab the next bar, as well as ensuring that my legs don't swing too much.


Fireman's Pole


Although I didn't struggle with this as badly as the monkey bars and got over my fear quicker, I think I was seven or eight by the time I was able to do the playground fireman's pole on my own.


I basically learned that I needed to hug the pole and not just grab it. Otherwise, my chance of falling would be greater.


Conclusion


As an autistic person, although I had more challenges than the average person with motor coordination involving the above activities, they still kept me busy during summer months growing up.


They helped me with self-esteem, confidence, and I learned many things about myself.


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