Friday, January 6, 2012

The Concept of Team

A couple of years ago in the first two months of my blog I talked about my horrible skills of being on a team. How bad were they? This short video from a goal I scored on NHL 11 is evidence enough:

Okay, so the video is a bit of an extreme and fluke event, but still, when I started playing team games, this was my concept. I mean, who needs a team when I can pass the puck to myself off the boards and score a goal? I was actually a little peeved that I only got credit for the goal and not the assist as well.

Also, the "I think therefore you should know" issue was major. On NHL 10 I believe Rob and I played over 1,000 games (I was unemployed when this game came out) and even after 1,000 games I was still having issues. What type of issues? Time after time when a play would develop I would get mad at Rob for not being where I expected him to be. This was because I knew where he should've been therefore any deviance from that obviously meant that he was asleep on the ice.

Time after time after time I became frustrated because Rob wasn't where I thought he should be. Not everyone on the spectrum shares this because, of course, if you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism, but I have heard from many parents that team play is something that their children struggle with.

When NHL 11 rolled around and 1,000 games on NHL under my belt I began to see the plays a little bit better. Don't get me wrong, my hockey play IQ is still well below what it should be, but from watching plays develop I am better able to see where Rob, or Travis, will be on the ice. Another thing that helped me realize that it wasn't them but rather me was when I thought back to a P.E. game of gym hockey in 5th grade.

I was from Indianapolis and knew nothing about hockey except that the puck needs to go into the net to score and for some reason or another the sport is always interrupted by a fight. Thankfully there was no fighting in this 5th grade gym class, but I was still as lost as could be. When the positions were handed out I got to be on defense. Now, in my mind, defense is not offense. Having no hockey sense, and not being able to understand that I should mimic the other defender, I had this positioning on another one of Aaron's MS Paint diagrams:

Okay, the black X's would be my team and I was the light blue X. I was playing right by my goalie because, after all, I was on defense. The other defender was playing up near the blue line and I find it interesting now that, even though I knew nothing about hockey and everyone else on the gym floor did, I did not emulate my teammates. I even think they tried to get me to play the right area, but I knew they were wrong because I was on "defense".

What I've learned from now over 2,000 games of NHL on the Xbox 360 spread across NHL 10, 11, and 12 is teamwork is something that can be learned. Thankfully Rob and Travis have been very patient with me and have coached me to the point that I now can figure what I think should happen and what really should happen. Yes, it is something that can be learned, but it isn't something that just happened over night for me. It still is a struggle at times because there still is the "I think therefore you should know" but I'm at least open to this being the cause now.


  1. I think we could still work on your breakaway techniques ;)

  2. I had no issues until Rob said there was an issue. He shook my confidence and now I need a video game sports pshychologist :)

  3. I think a lot of individuals with autism can benefit from having group therapy (at times) as well as classes where group assignments are common.

    Play is the easiest way to learn about group work for kids- Legos, puzzles, sports, etc. If the group is conducted well, kids with autism can learn this quickly... which they then can carry the skills they learn to recess and school work.

    Group assignments are also important! In my OT school life, majority of my classes have group work. Why? It's because the teachers want to stimulate us into the real world settings my classmates and I would be in, which a lot of times where we have to work in teams in our work.

    Also... think about your role at Touchpoint for a second. You are part of a team in your company. There are times where it is OK to fly solo. However, in team environments, you contribute what you are expected contribute while keeping an eye on others to see if they need any help.

  4. I just got my kid's school report (she's 17) and one part says she "works well in a team." She told me the teacher has written for the wrong kid. She only had to work with a partner (hardly a team) in cooking class one time because she told him to please not work with her again. Spent the rest of the year working on her own.