Autistic Teen's Amazing Performance on the Basketball Court Makes Us Mad (VIDEO)

Inspiring 7

basketball hoopIt's one of those videos so inspiring that it just keeps coming back. An autistic teen named Jason McElwain finally gets the ball in the last game of the season for the Greece Athena High School basketball team. And suddenly, the special ed student is on fire, shooting basket after basket.

It's the kind of viral video you want to watch again and again, with a goofy grin on your face. But even as I'm smiling, a little anger has crept in. Jason McElwain nailed it. He did what any high school basketball star would in a game. So why was he only put in in the last game of the season? Why was he stuck being the team's manager all this time?

Is it because he had autism, because he was a special education student? Is it because -- as it so often happens -- he was underestimated?

I realize I'm stretching a bit here. Jason seems to have been very happy to have been the basketball team manager for several years. If that's what he wanted, then great!

But I watched him nail those shots, and I can't help but wonder "what if?" What if he wasn't treated as a special education student but just as a student?

I've seen it happen more than I'd like to admit. Whether it's an autistic child who people assume can't do things because of pre-conceived notions about what it means to be on the spectrum or a deaf child treated like they're stupid simply because they can't hear. It's sad. It's depressing. But it happens!

So today I watch this video and I do smile -- I smile for what Jason McElwain has shown to the world, that kids with special needs shouldn't be underestimated, that they can do wonderful things. I just hope people are listening:


Do you feel like your child is underestimated because of his or her special needs?


Image via acidpix/Flickr

autism, special needs


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buffa... buffalove23

This happened like seriously at least five years ago...why do you feel the need to belittle his accomplishment now?

nonmember avatar Liz

Talk about pi$$Ing all over a good thing! This kid is amazing, and it appears as though he is a pressure player. My guess would be that he did not make the team during tryouts and happily took a spot as the team manager. Michael Jordan did NOT make his frosh team. He became equipment manager, worked out with the team and improved. Look where that took him! Stop with your negative crap. This kid deserves the holy crap moment more than us readers deserve the snarky story.

fave82 fave82

Like you said, you dont know why he had never played in a game before. You don't know if that was his choice.. You don't know if he was treated differently because he's autistic, or if he was just underestimated and then ended up doing amazing.. Sounds like the list of things you don't know could fill a book, so how about not being so freaking negative and looking for conflict in every single thing.

Mommi... MommietoJB

Since 1 in 88 kids are diagnosed on the spectrum, I think with those numbers were going to obviously see autistic kids that are talented in everything from basketball to ballet. We should never underestimate special needs children we need to encourage them to practice and watch them rise to the ocassion.

Adrienne Bolton

I think lots of people can be underestimated. No matter if they have a special need or not. I would be interesting to know if he was perfectly happy being manager.

Shannon Des Roches Rosa

Thank you, Jeanne. It's OK to acknowledge differences in ability, and I'm as thrilled for Jason as anyone, even five years later. I'll be more thrilled when presuming competence is a given -- rather than a rallying cry -- for kids like him.

jessi... jessicasmom1

It is ok to acknowledge difference but never underestimate.

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