The Alternative Baseball Organization is a 501(c)(3), authentic baseball experience for teens 15-plus and adults with autism and other disabilities to gain social and physical skills for success in life, on and off the diamond.
ABO stated, “It takes six months to fill a full team due to the lack of catered services available in most areas for teens and adults with disabilities. So, in spite of the pandemic, recruitment for 2021 has begun virtually. We are looking for a volunteer coach/manager, volunteers and players to help us start new programs serving those in Erie County.”
Play is tentatively set to start in late spring-summer 2021.
“We are different from other programs in that teams travel to other areas, play on traditional high school-size fields, and play using the same rule-set as the pros on television,” ABO stated. “The organization provides equipment and resources to help such a program become successful.”
Taylor Duncan, age 25, of Dallas, Georgia, is the ABO commissioner/director. He also has autism.
“When I was much younger, I had speech issues, anxiety issues, and more that came with having autism. … I wasn't able to participate in competitive sports due to the developmental delays, in addition to social stigma (preconceived ideas) from those who think what one with autism can and cannot accomplish. 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.
“As many with autism graduate from high school in many areas, services plateau. In a lot of suburban and rural areas, there are no services for those to continue their path toward independence. Many travel to find the limited services, which may or may not be available to their specific needs. 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!”
The ABO follows Major League Baseball rules (wood bats, base stealing, dropped third strike, etc.), and, it said, is a true typical team experience for others on the autism spectrum and special needs to help develop social skills for later in life. ABO also has clubs in 30-plus states that are preparing for the new season.
In 2019, the organization was commemorated as a Community Hero at an Atlanta Braves game. It has been featured on ESPN's “Baseball Tonight” and NBC's “Today.”
Duncan said, “Players can be of all experience levels. We take them from where they start out at (whether they require to be pitched to slow overhand or hit off the tee), and help develop their physical and social skills.”