Hockey plays a number of different roles for each individual, however, for twelve year old Quinn from Essendon junior hockey club in Melbourne, hockey has saved his life. 

Having been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of seven Quinn has struggled with the day-to-day difficulties of home and school life. He had incredible difficulty staying in mainstream school, socialising with other children, maintaining his anger and working alongside others.

Autism Spectrum Disorder often causes individuals to struggle to understand and relate to others and to their environment. For Quinn it results in extreme behaviour, which can be seen as tantrums or rudeness indicating that he's feeling anxious.

With a lifelong condition and no current cure, Quinn’s occupational therapist recommended hockey as a sensory support. Parents Carmen and Hamish signed Quinn up at their local hockey club at the age of seven through a Hookin2Hockey session and have never looked back.

With its excellent organisation and a great atmosphere, Essendon hockey club became the right choice for Quinn to feel secure in their environment. The coaches, players and other parents have gone above and beyond to ensure Quinn is included, encouraged and supported in times of need.

Playing as a goalkeeper, Quinn has responded positively towards hockey. Enjoying the friendships he has made that he previously struggled to make, as well as the feeling of achievement playing in his goalkeeping gear, many of his sensory needs are met. 

Quinn’s mother, Carmen, has witnessed the positive improvement that hockey has played around his new life. Offering advice and support to other parents with autistic children she said, “Hockey is a great sport with little gender divide in the younger years, it has a great community component and is a great game to play. For autistic kids the way the game is designed and the anchor, which is of course the hockey stick, is grounding and keeps their minds and bodies in the game, making it ideal for kids with autism building on motor skills, friendships and the capacity to be included".

“He now attends a special school and while that can be somewhat isolating in its own right, at hockey he's just another kid playing sport who does well and is rewarded for it. The self-esteem that has been built in our autistic boy is a testament to the club and to the game.”

Article written by Shevaun Sly, 27 March 2014