Albert Castaneda, an 18-year-old high school football player from Ysleta High School in El Paso, Texas, provides exceptional energy and spirit to his team. At just 4 feet 11 inches tall, Castaneda brings his A-game when playing football, never letting his opponents out of sight. He brings the crowd to their feet, and his infectious attitude pumps up the fans. Nothing about Castaneda's attitude, skill, or energy suggests his condition of ADHD should be considered a "special need," particularly on the football field. However, his team, coach, and family think otherwise.
The El Paso Times published a piece that praised Castaneda by emphasizing his success on the team amidst having special needs. Castaneda is a student with ADHD. In the seven years of coaching at Ysleta, Ruben Torres, varsity head coach, says Castaneda is "the first special needs student that has been on the football team." ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is affects millions of children. Symptoms of ADHD include being overly active, and having difficulty staying focused. Suggesting that ADHD is in the same category as down-syndrome, cerebral palsy or other disorders that affect one's physical performance in a sport is inaccurate, as Castaneda has proved.
Not only does Castaneda match his opponents' strides out on the field, but he also "stays focused on his opponents," writes Hinojosa. This energy is a plus for the Ysleta football team. Yet, the people around him are under the impression that Castaneda is a "special needs" student, who for his size and disability, is an exemplary player.
Castaneda's spirit is worthy of acknowledgment; however, praising his ability to play football as an ADHD student pushes the definitions of inspiration and triumph.