Changing perceptions one swing at a time
JUNE 7, 2021
The Alternative Baseball Organization, a baseball program for those on the autism spectrum and with similar special needs, is looking to expand into the Santa Clarita Valley.
The nonprofit provides an authentic baseball experience to teens and adults, ages 15 and older, with autism and other disabilities, assisting them with physical and social skills, both on and off the baseball diamond, to help them integrate into society.
Taylor Duncan, a 25-year-old who has autism, started the organization after he was told he couldn’t play baseball as a child due to the stigmas of what someone with autism could and could not do.
Now, he said the organization strives to give others on the spectrum and with other special needs the opportunity to play — no questions asked.
“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,” Duncan said.
Duncan, commissioner/director of the organization, hopes to help teens and adults during a time when many of the services and disability programming offered to them to help them continue their path toward independence become limited.
“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,” Duncan added.
In Alternative Baseball, players are given an authentic baseball experience, traveling to play on traditional high-school-size fields using the same professional league rules, all while providing them with a team experience and helping them to develop their social skills.
Players can be of all experience levels, with the program set to work with them to develop their skills.
Alternative Baseball has clubs in more than 30 states, and despite the pandemic, the organization is continuing to expand into the West coast, searching for volunteers to coach and manage teams, as well as players, with recruitment going on virtually for 2021.
The first step in building a team in the SCV is finding a coach/manager, according to Duncan.
“We just want to have the opportunity to show what we can do and be able to have fun with it, too,” Duncan said.
Writer: Emily Alvarenga