Boy with Autism named football team senior captain

Detroit –  Josh Bailey, senior captain of the Lakeland football team, has proven that hard work and dedication pays off. You’d never know it watching him play football but at age 3, Bailey could not speak and displayed all the classic signs of Autism.  Bailey was shy, socially awkward, and sensitive to loud noises.  At one point in his life, he lacked passion which led to depression.

But then he found football that ignited a fire inside of him.  He found a new set of friends that helped him to fit in at White Lake Township High School as a 6-foot, 270 pounds senior offensive tackle and has has worked hard to earn the respect of his teammates.  Bailey never missed an offseason conditioning practice and worked harder than anyone in the weight room.  His teammates admire his dedication.

Bailey’s achievements are extremely rare and should be celebrated.

Dr. Tisa Johnson, the medical director at Henry Ford’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. said:

“It’s not so rare for a child with autism to be on a team, but the type of team that this child is on is truly what is exceptionally rare and it is something that I have not seen.”

Dr. Johnson has treated thousands of children with Autism and has never encountered a case like this.  Some of the symptoms of Autism include the inability to understand the emotions of others.  In addition, they often excel at individual sports instead of team

Bailey told that he is autistic and proud, further adding:

“I’m not afraid to be open about it.  I’ve been through a lot through autism.  I turned it from something that hindered me as a child and now I can show people, ‘Hey, a kid with autism is making it in football.’”

Bailey is doing more than inspiring his teammates, his coaches, and his community.  He’s an inspiration to the autism community, and is proof that hard work pays off.  Not only is he the team captain, but he has now been offered a position on the College of Mount St. Joseph football team.  His coach is certain that with Bailey’s dedication and love of the game, he could absolutely do it.

The original article  by Jeff Seidel on the Detroit Free Press website can be read here