ATHENS Ala. – A baseball league for teens and adults with autism and other special needs is coming to the greater Huntsville area this summer.
The Alternative Baseball League is for players 15 and up — there is no age limit.
The Commissioner and CEO, Taylor Clark Duncan, said he was told he couldn’t play baseball.
“Being an injury risk or being a safety hazard or just not being able to be capable because of others’ perception of what they think is a disability,” Duncan said.
Duncan was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old.
“I had a lot of developmental delays growing up. I had speech issues, sensory issues, I had a lot of anxiety issues. It really took me a lot to be able to get to this point. I didn’t speak full sentences until I was probably in the first grade,” he said. “So I may have had a lot of delays when I was much younger, but that’s okay because I had the support system to help me get here. And that’s the important thing is that I’m here.”
Duncan created the Alternative Baseball Organization so other teens and adults with autism and special needs will never be told they can’t play.
“We started with one team in real suburban Atlanta in 2016, and then we started getting calls from all these other people throughout the United States wanting to start similar programs in their area,” he said. “So why not help them out?”
The league is coming to North Alabama, with a team in Athens and more to come in the greater Huntsville area. Duncan said there aren’t a lot of programs for people with autism and special needs after high school. These teams give players more physical and social opportunities.
“It can not only improve their social skills, but it also improves mental health as well. By giving them those opportunities to participate in really a limitless environment. So we want to accept them for who they are. You want to encourage them to be the best they can be, and we want to instill the confidence in them, for them to fulfill their dreams on and off the diamond,” Duncan said.
The team is starting in Athens but Duncan said he hopes to expand teams in Huntsville, Madison and across north Alabama.