Autistic-Only Soccer Stars


ORLANDO, F.L. (Ivanhoe Newswire)– One in three children with autistic spectrum disorder or ASD will not play any sports outside of school gym classes. As a result of social, verbal, and relationship issues that come with playing sports, children on the spectrum are often isolated, and play video games twice as long than the average child.

These kids are just your average soccer superstars, but one thing separates them from the rest. They are all on the autistic spectrum.

Grace Bowman is taking what she learned playing division one soccer and turning it into life lessons for these boys and girls.

“Approach obstacles and get through them as a team,” Grace Bowman told Ivanhoe.

Bowman’s mission, getting these kids off the sideline and into the game.

Grace Bowman shared, “I asked her why doesn’t he play and she mentioned he was on the autistic spectrum and that there wasn’t a program for him.”

She started a first of its kind, autistic-only soccer league, XL.ENT.

“If there wasn’t an XL.ENT team he maybe wouldn’t get that opportunity,” Paul Scully stated.

Kids with ASD like Paddy Scully have a hard time playing on sports teams. Outdoor factors make it difficult for those on the spectrum to focus on the game. The enclosed, controlled space helps to eliminate all of that.

“He’s found a sport where he belongs,” MJ Scully uttered.

“It’s a lot easier to play and it’s just more fun,” Patty Scully exclaimed.

Giving those on the spectrum a chance to play sports can lead to them having increased cognitive functioning and social skills, decreases in challenging behaviors, and less need of moral support. Paddy now can score on the field while also scoring some time with his family.

“Just the smile on his face,” Paul Scully noted.

“He feels like he belongs,” MJ Scully voiced.

Every child on the Bowman’s XL.ENT team plays for free. She gets funding from the Ripitt Organization. Right now, XL.ENT is only in Orlando, but Bowman says she plans to expand her program to reach more players in the near future.


Contributor(s) to this news report include: Jenna Ehrlich, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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