Special Olympics Helps Athlete Build Confidence - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Special Olympics Helps Athlete Build Confidence

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For children with autism, interacting with peers can sometimes be a challenge. Ryan Duppong is a typical, energetic ten-year-old, but his parents say he tends to keep to himself because he has autism.

But after playing with the Dickinson Special Olympics teams for a few years, Ryan has gained a lot of confidence and bowling skill.

Ryan only needs one word to describe how he feels while playing basketball and that is happy.

And like any ten-year-old, he is pretty energetic.

He just likes to do everything!" says Ryan's brother Sean Duppong.

But Ryan is a little different than other kids his age.

"Ryan has autism and pervasive developmental delay and probably a little but of ADHD and everything thrown in there," says Ryan's father Curt Duppong. "We call it the alphabet soup, just a little bit of everything."

That sometimes makes it difficult for Ryan to relate to his peers.

"Part of his disability is that he's kind of socially awkward, and likes to kind of make up his own routine and do his own thing," says Ryan's mother Janell Duppong.

But when Ryan started playing sports with the Special Olympics a few years ago, his parents noticed a change.

"For Ryan being in Special Olympics, it's really brought him more confidence in himself," says Janell.

Even though Ryan plays several sports, his parents say there's one that bowls over the competition.

"Bowling he really loves," says Curt. "That's kind of his favorite thing. He got a ball that someone gave him, a bowling ball, and that's his pride and joy right there.

And that pride and joy has carried over into his family too.

"It's been really good for us because it's a place we can go or if he does something a little bit off, that we don't have a bunch of people staring at us. No one cares. He doesn't have to worry about being judged," says Curt.

Ryan's whole family is now involved. His Dad coaches and his Mom, brother and sister are all partners on Ryan's team.

And while Ryan's disability still presents a lot of obstacles.

Special Olympics has helped to knock some of them down.

Ryan's parents say one of the best parts of Special Olympics is all the community support. They want to encourage anyone in the Dickinson area to attend the Polar Plunge on March 29 where proceeds benefit the Area 12 program.

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