Anthony Crudale is a 25 year-old autistic marathon runner. With the help of his ASD tendency to adhere to a strict schedule, he clocks more than 115 miles per week. With his 2000 Sutter Home Napa Valley Marathon win against over 2,000 other competitive runners, Crudale is the first autistic runner to win a marathon. For a full story, visit Crudale
Andrew Bryant is another outstanding autistic runner. After an undefeated career in the Washington Special Olympics, he was also the first member of the Washington Special Olympics to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon. At the age of 25, with a goal time of beating cyclist Lance Armstrong’s 2006 NYC Marathon time of 2:59:36, he finished with a time of 3:05:36, placing him within the top 6% of finishers in the 2007 Boston Marathon. For more on this story visit Bryant
Jonathan Brunot is a 19 year-old profoundly autistic runner. Read his inspiring story Brunot
Gabriel is a 16 year-old autistic high school student. He is undoubtedly a very talented gymnast, shown here showcasing his ability at the 2011 Quebec Championship. It is thought by some autistic athletes, as well as coaches and parents, that autism may serve as an advantage in technical sports such as gymnastics and martial arts, as well as technical positions such as a baseball pitcher or a hockey goalie. This is due to autistics’ (and those on the spectrum’s) ability to overfocus on these technical aspects of athletics, hyperfocus for longer periods of time, and remain more calm than non-autistics in similar high-stress competition situations because emotions are experienced differently between autistic and non-autistic athletes.
The Santa Clarita Sharks Basketball Team is an extension of the Special Olympics of Southern California. This is a team comprised of children ages 8-14,with 22 members, and 21 of those members autistic athletes. Although parents and coaches are also interviewed in this video, the autistic basketball stars express the benefits of non-mainsteam athletics, including the many social benefits, with one child stating that he most enjoyed “[talking] to people that are just like me, that have the same things”. Best of luck this season!
Watch as Elgin High School senior, Winfred Cooper scores his first touchdown on the JV football team. Winfred is a severely autistic, incredibly quick wide-receiver on the football team.
Chase Shirley, 12, is the Special Olympics Featured Athlete of the Year. This incredible multi-sport autistic athlete has 63 trophies and 25 medals from a combination of baseball, soccer, gymnastics, floor hockey, basketball, horseback riding, and mixed martial arts. He says autism ‘feels like dodging a thousand balls at one time’, which he seems more than capable of doing based on his many awards. He was invited by the San Diego Padres to throw out the opening pitch for one of the team’s season home games.
Jim Eisenreich was drafted into Major League Baseball in 1982 and played his Rookie season for the Minnesota Twins. Eisenreich suffered from uncontrollable tics and twitches, common symptoms of a then-misunderstood Tourette’s Syndrome. Although well-known for his Tourette’s Syndrome, he was also on the Autism Spectrum with his later diagnosis of Asperger’s. Eisenreich withdrew from MLB in 1984 due to his uncontrollable tics, and sought the help of medical professionals. After medication to control his tics, he returned to the MLB in 1986, playing for the Kansas City Royals. He received the Royals Player of the Year award in 1989. He also received the Tony Conigliaro Award in 1990, which annually recognizes one MLB player who has overcome a significant obstacle. During his 15 year career in the MLB, he played for the Twins, Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, Florida Marlins, and Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1996, he founded the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette’s Syndrome.
Featured on ESPN, 20 year-old professional surfer Clay Marzo is a two-time amateur champion (2004, 2005). At age 8, when Marzo received his first surf board, his parents began to notice he had trouble making eye contact, difficulty expressing himself, and repetitive behavior. After ten years of frustrating misdiagnoses of ADHD and OCD, the doctors’ visits decreased while his time on the water and surfing skill skyrocketed. After his amateur championships, his notoriety increased, however he preferred his time riding the waves versus attracting sponsors, which involved the exhausting task of trying to understand social cues. In 2007, with the support of his parents and his sponsor, Quicksilver, Marzo was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.The diagnosis has allowed Clay to act like Clay, without the backlash of being perceived as ‘rude’ while at competitions. Clay Marzo’s surfing skills aren’t thought to be in spite of his Asperger’s, but because of it. His Asperger’s helps him to hyperfocus on the very technical aspects of surfing, making him an unbelievable athlete in the world of surfing.
Featured on CNN, high school senior Jason McElwain, or “J. Mac”, is a diagnosed high-functioning autistic, and was a student assistant for the varsity basketball team at his high school. In the final home game of his senior year, he was given the chance to suit up and play in the game and scored a school-record 6 three-pointers in the last 4 minutes of the game. His story garnered much subsequent media attention and popularity in his senior year, as well as a brief, but none-the-less present, nationwide focus on the the overlap of autism and athletics.