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Tournament Helps Autistic Kids Become Hockey Heroes | News

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Tournament Helps Autistic Kids Become Hockey Heroes

LAUREL, Md. (WUSA) -- Playing a team sport can be incredibly intimidating for children with autism and other sensory disorders, unless it's a team only for kids with special needs. On Tuesday, four such hockey teams in the DC-area got together at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel for the Special Hockey Holiday Classic.

"Today is a special day for all of the local special needs hockey teams," said David Lucia, head coach of the Montgomery Cheetahs.

Lucia played hockey in college for Notre Dame and now he's coaching his own son on the special needs team.
"I want my son to have the same opportunities that I had: a love of the game, the thrill of victory, and all the lessons that come with playing the game of hockey," said Lucia.

The special needs hockey teams are open to all children who have physical or neurological disabilities, with a special emphasis on children with autism and other sensory disabilities.

"Together with the parents, we learn how to best teach their kids not only on the ice but also off the ice," said Lucia. "For instance, passing is a simple thing in a hockey team. But for a special needs child, passing is sharing and sometimes that is a very hard thing to learn. Other things we teach them are competition and cooperation. It's okay that someone would take the puck away from you or that the goalie would stop it."

If you would like to learn how your child can join the Montgomery Cheetahs, go to their website: www.montgomerycheetahs.org