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.
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.
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.