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        Swim Team | Lesson Plan Clips

        In Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the parents of one boy on the autism spectrum do not let this diagnosis stand in the way of his success. Instead, they take matters into their own hands and form the Jersey Hammerheads, a Special Olympics swim team for a group of diverse teens on the autism spectrum. They train and coach this team of teens to compete together with high expectations, zero pity and plenty of support and encouragement.

        In this science-focused lesson, students will learn about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and explore how participating in sports can benefit individuals on the spectrum. Through viewing film clips from the documentary Swim Team and reading current research on ASD, students will practice the scientific method of observation and data collection at their own school, focusing on sports and special needs students.

        Clip 1: "Sports and Social Emotional Wellbeing"

        We meet the three main athletes in Swim Team, Mikey, Robbie and Kelvin, who are on the autism spectrum. We learn about their dedication to the Jersey Hammerheads, the Special Olympics swim team established by Mikey’s parents, Michael and Maria, and the purpose and value of this swim team.

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        Clip 2: "Sports and Perseverance"

        In Clip 2 we learn about some of the very personal challenges autism presents for Mikey and for Robbie, as well as for their parents. We also learn a bit more of Robbie’s background and the difficulties he and his mother face as he matures through his high school years.

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        Clip 3: "The Impact of Sports"

        We meet Kelvin, a teen with both autism and Tourette syndrome. We also meet his parents and learn more about their path to figuring out how best to support their son, including the role of swimming in his life.

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        Clip 4: "Special Olympics - Experiencing Success"

        Mikey is selected to participate in the national Special Olympics representing Team New Jersey.

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