Auburn, NY (PRWEB) February 26, 2007
Nathaniel Donch, a star pitcher for every team he's played throughout his youth league career, has autism. He appears normal on the outside but has had many struggles to overcome in school - and in his mind. But it's a disability he refuses to let hold him back.
Missing developmental milestones in the area of speech, and exhibiting peculiar play habits, Nathaniel was taken to a child neurologist by his parents for an evaluation just before he turned three-years-old and was diagnosed with autism; a developmental disorder that affects language and social skills. Despite subsequent struggles resulting from the disability, mainly in school, he has gone on to prove he has other talents, such as hurling a baseball faster than most kids his age.
Donch's parents have always been very proud of their son's talent, determination, and perseverance. Now David Donch, his father, has authored a book dedicated to his son's accomplishments in baseball. The book, titled "Beast" (a nickname given to Nathaniel by a little league coach when he was eleven-years-old in honor of his pitching prowess) will be released in March of 2007. It is a fictionalized memoir based on events that took place throughout Nathaniel's little league years. Donch hopes the book will generate motivation for others to seek out their strengths and develop them in order to achieve their full potential in life. Information about the book can be found at http://www.BeastTheNovel.com.
A little and Babe Ruth league all-star, Nathaniel Donch has pitched successfully in play-off and even championship title games. Fourteen-year-old Donch, who resides in the City of Auburn, NY, appears as any other normal youth leaguer on the outside, but on the inside, has had several "beasts" of his own to overcome - such as self doubt and low self esteem.
Donch, who has a live fast ball, a good sinker, a hard biting curve, and great control, now wishes to take his game to the next level. This spring, he is trying to make his high school team. He works out regularly with weights and practices baseball daily, weather permitting, in hopes that he will make the cut and be included on the roster of a team that takes only a few, top-notch players from amongst the several dozen who try-out each year.
Not since the Hall-of-Fame lefty pitcher Rube Waddell, whose major league career spanned thirteen years from 1897 to 1910, has there been much recorded information about a pitcher at any level of organized competitive play with a developmental disorder. The exact nature of Waddell's mental condition is not known and has been a debated topic. Some speculate he may have been autistic; others contend that such a diagnosis is not plausible, suggesting that mild mental retardation is a more realistic explanation for Rube's odd behaviors. Still others insist he was merely dim-witted and not developmentally delayed at all. Whatever the case, it's obvious from the stories surrounding his career that Waddell was "different."
With a little luck and a lot of hard work, Nathaniel Donch will make his high school team.
Besides the normal learning curve that all players tend to go through at this level of play, there are other obstacles he'll need to overcome -- obstacles resulting from his autism. Nathaniel's language comprehension is below average, which requires him to work much harder than typical students to achieve passing grades in academic subjects that involve the ability to use complex language. He also struggles with sensory and social issues; the latter representing the biggest challenges. While Nathaniel's parents work hard at advocating for the support and services their son will need in order to succeed in a NY State regent's diploma program, as well as developing the skills to succeed in life as an adult, they are concerned about their son's future. They see a student who takes great pride in his grades becoming increasingly frustrated over an inability to perform well on exams in spite of the hard work he puts into preparing for them.
Perhaps Nathaniel's love for playing the game and his desire to get good grades will compel him to do whatever it takes to succeed as a student and an athlete. After high school, could he possibly go on to play at the college level, in the minor or even the major leagues? Nathaniel's father certainly believes so… stating that he believes in the old adage, "where there's a will, there's a way."