Meet the Speaker: Taylor Duncan

We recently asked Taylor a few questions so you can get to know one of our CTRL + ALT + DEL speakers.  Check it out…

What is your passion?

My passion is to help others on the autism spectrum and with other special needs through teaching America's Pastime... I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the age of 4. As a result, I faced a lot of preconceived perceptions growing up including being asked to quit teams (due to autism being an "injury risk") and not having the same opportunities as other peers my age. Baseball's a big passion, but helping people thrive and succeed is an even bigger passion of mine. There's not enough out there for those on the spectrum and with other special needs to become successful. That's where I feel my calling comes in so I founded Alternative Baseball back in 2016.

 How did you decide to pursue your current career?

 I had grown up playing a year of rec baseball and several years of slow-pitch softball. As I faced preconceived perceptions from others up here, I went to different camps and instructors across the Southeast for skills-based instruction. I decided on the way back up Interstate 75, "Why isn't there anything like this for others on the autism spectrum? They're more than capable if they're with the right group of people with the right attitudes/mindset." With the support of my Mother (who's been there for me time and time again throughout the years), I decided it was time to start a new initiative to cater to those who may have never had the opportunities before with Alternative Baseball.  Alternative Baseball provides an authentic baseball experience to teens and adults ages 15 and older with autism and other special needs. We play by the authentic Major League rulebook. I started Alternative Baseball to provide a high emphasis on instruction for overall physical skills and social skills growth through experimentation. I coached the original team in Powder Springs (GA) from 2016 to Spring of 2018. As we grew in participation, we opened our second club in Dallas (GA), where I'm originally from. Up until the end of this last season, I coached the Dallas team. Now, we've grown from 1 small club of 6 people to building a national network across the United States. Eventually, we have plans to go above the border and across the globe. We know baseball is a huge sport across the globe, and people are waiting for this opportunity. Every person deserves the opportunity to be accepted for who they are, encouraged to be the best they can be, and instilled confidence to fulfill their dreams in and outside of the sport of Baseball.

 What did you learn about yourself during the process of preparing your talk? 

I learned basically to go with the flow with learning the TED structure, because it is so different than any other speaking or news interviews I had already done in the past... I have been on Baseball Tonight, CNN/HLN, and NBC's TODAY Show. I've done several speeches with Toastmasters International. I worked hard to earn the Triple Crown award for the 2017-2018 year where I've gotten my Advance Leadership Bronze (ALB) and Advance Communicator Bronze (ACB) awards. I do my best to have an open mind and a good attitude, because I may learn something I may have never previously known before. New knowledge, to me, is key to success. 

What drives you in challenging times?

I've had many of 'em. Adversity, problems, rubbish, I feel like I've faced nearly all of it by now in some shape or form. (LOL!) I'm only 23 now too, so there's no telling what else I'll learn during this next 23 years. As a child, I wasn't able to participate in youth sports due to preconceived ideas of being an "injury risk." I often even faced those perceptions growing up into my early adult years. There've even been folks, even those in my family, who said I'd never become successful. Time and time again from when I was a child on into my adult years, I've had to learn to persevere and never take "NO" for an answer. These are experiences God has actually blessed me with because it helped me become who I am today. What started out as a local initiative with Alternative Baseball turned into a national organization because I truly believe people, in general, are much more capable of achieving their dreams than what society will take for granted. I'm very proud to be where I am today with the support of those who have believed in me, and I'm proud to be a part of the 2019 edition of Tedx Atlanta.