So…the Special Olympics Bowling Tournament came and went – and I did get a call back on the Thursday before from the woman in question from the local group. She partially back-tracked and partially denied what she had said in the email.
She held firm to the idea that some athletes may be asked to stop bowling but clarified that this applied to those who were a danger to themselves or others, citing that in years past, there had been incidents of some athletes throwing bowling balls at each other. Fair enough. And she did specify that they’d still receive a participation ribbon; they’d just be removed from the actual bowling, which is not what it sounded like in the original email where it said that they would be asked to leave.
However, she also stated that students who were disruptive shouldn’t be there – that they “weren’t ready” for the tournament and would distract the other athletes. So while it would be okay that Simon would talk repetitively with his “tv talk” as well call it (echolalia), if he yelled, then he might be asked to stop playing. And she said that she never wrote anything about some kids not belonging there – and I didn’t have the email in front of me to quote it back to her because she had called me while I was out at lunch. And she never really made me feel good about her original comment about the looseness of the term “intolerable behavior.”
Still, the tournament itself went well for us. Simon brought home the gold for his lane, and he had a good time until the end when he had to wait. I’m sure he had some “intolerable behaviors” then, but no one talked to us about it or seemed to be paying any attention to it.
But…I managed to hear gossip while I was there. And I have no idea of its veracity, especially since it is gossip, but it concerned me nonetheless. I was told that the local Special Olympics rep was a great person but that she might have had a grudge against our coach due to some late paperwork and that someone (it wasn’t clear who, exactly) might have suggested that one of the older athletes who liked to hop and move around a lot was unwelcome at the tournament. Are the rumors true? I don’t know. But they are disturbing, and because of that, I do hope they are false because it would be very upsetting to think that personal vendettas and intolerance of disabilities was ruining an experience for kids who would really benefit from it.
Hopefully there will be no confusion or fighting next year. I’d hate to have to call a dozen numbers again, trying to look for fairness and equality at an event that is meant to be just that, fair and equitable.