Here is something that you would never expect from me, I have Asperger’s and I have been living with it for years. I won’t go into details of all of the symptoms but I will give you more information from www.autismspeaks.org to answer your questions. Here are the areas where hockey has benefited me over the years.
1. The fixation on very few interests and mine was hockey. You can blame my first NHL game back in the days when Cam Neely was playing for the Bruins and that was it for me. I wanted to try hockey and have been in love with the sport since.
2. It forces me to socialize and communicate. Communication and social skills for high functioning Autism Spectrum patients is a nightmare. I know what I want to say most of the time but have trouble saying it. Working with a teammate to tell him or her to pay attention because the puck is near them or I am open is important for my team.
Shyness with anyone on the Spectrum is one of the hugest problems and the social isolation kicks in. Having a common interest with a group of people will open the door for conversation because I share a common interest and I will have something to talk about.
3. Coordination off the ice is laughable for me because I have mastered the art of falling up the stairs. Like many in the Autism community, coordination is a problem for many and will earn those trips into therapy for that one. Balancing on a small piece of steel really makes me focus on staying up and forcing me to work on technique with skating because the consequences mentally are falling will be more painful but you have more protection. Backward crossovers still leave something to be desired.
4. It desensitizes me from sounds. Sound sensitivity is common in the Autism community and my hypersensitivity is bad. All of the sounds from the shouting, buzzers and horns help me to adapt to sounds off the ice in the real world.