Activities - Want your child to try out new sporting
activities? There is NO reason not to.
This article was provided by Kerry Williams, mother of Sam and
Hope for Autism West Hertfordshire group member.
to school – The start of a new term, new school
year or new school is often a stressful, anxious and exciting
time for many of our children.
activity should ever be ‘out of bounds’ for children with Autism:
to make the assumption that my son Sam (age 10 and diagnosed
with Autism from an early age) would never cope or manage
with the demands of a sporting activity, especially once
he started school. For starters, many sports require turn
taking, engaging in teams (which brings its own problems
of competitiveness) and Sam‘s fear of not being picked for
a any team until last. He also had huge anxieties based
on his fear of being injured whilst doing any sport. However
I was wrong. If you can find the right provider for an activity
which caters and understands the needs of children with
ASD – there will be an activity you can try and explore
with your child to see if it is a sport they will:
get a lot from in terms of improving overall health and
b) raise self confidence and self esteem as the more they
want to participate in this activity, the better they will
become at it and their sporting skills develops.
For Sam, the off chance of managing to coax him on to a
large trampoline at a holiday centre has led to Sam becoming
really confident not just to trampoline but in a willingness
to try other sporting activities. Research has shown that
children with Autism can benefit from regular exercise and
that trampolining particularly can provide many additional
benefits. NAS have listed it as one of their many strategies
to try in order to give sensory stimulation. See
their website for more details
of trampolining can provide children with a great sense of
fun and well-being. Being outside allows children to get fresh
air and sunlight, both of which provide their own health benefits.
And allowing peers / siblings to join in with the trampoline
fun can also help to provide huge social benefits to children
with Autism. Moreover, Clare Stockley cites from her research
on the ‘The Free Good Curriculum’, that the simple action
of safe bouncing skills allows children to develop better
control of their gross motor skills, explore their space and
can present as happier and more relaxed after a trampolining
session. For some on the autistic spectrum trampolining is
no less than liberating. From the activity being ‘Free time
bouncing’ can follow communication from an adult to widen
the movements into more disciplined ones which will also help
them transfer new skills into other physical activities. But
the beauty of trampolining is the absence of the need to think
artistically and children are able to bounce with the freedom
of non-rigid creativity. If you are thinking of buying a trampoline
for your children to use it is very important to ensure that
you choose one with an enclosure or tent. This will ensure
that your children can bounce, jump or play on the trampoline
without the worry of injury. There
is a good selection of Skyhigh Trampolines here.
the sport - give it a try
there are many activities you may wish to ‘step a toe in
‘to see if that could become the sport of choice for your
child. Out and About is a charity which seeks to promote
inclusion in leisure activities in the East of England.
They achieve this by supporting leisure providers in meeting
the needs of disabled children and young people (through
training and advice), as well as providing volunteers who
support people with disabilities in their chosen activity.
Their main objective is to enable disabled children and
young people to participate in, and be included in, leisure
activities of their choosing. Past activities have included
Archery, cinemas, football, golf, guides and scouts, cookery,
horse riding, karate, sailing, shopping, bowling, dancing,
swimming, table tennis, games, trampolining, and youth clubs.
link will take you to page of over 20 sporting activities,
including fishing, horse riding, martial arts and archery.
It’s website lists 687 providers from 124 categories.
is a usually a big fear and an activity of avoidance for
young people with autism. Sam worries about being seen with
stabilisers and has moments of sheer panic if we even suggest
their removal. He will sit in his seat but that is about
Watford Cycle Hub - has now voiced interest in taking
the lessons they provide for women only to children with
disabilities. From Sam’s confidence which has grown from
trampolining, in shedding his initial fears that all sports
lead to injuries, we now have a son who will bounce freely
on a massive trampoline without any inhibition. Through
trampolining Sam becomes liberated, animated and happy…so
bring on that bike……..
Here are some ideas to help make the transition go more smoothly.
You may like
to consider providing the new teacher with a one page synopsis
or passport about your child.
You could include:
that may not be obvious,
Suggestions to reduce anxiety
Strengths and Interests (ie. how the teacher can use them
to orchestrate successful experiences).
a relationship and rapport with your child’s new school or
teacher can also be challenging for us parents too. Below are
a few suggestions that may help create a positive working relationship:
for opportunities to show appreciation and support to all
school staff who go out of their way to help your child be
Remember that start of a new term is a very busy period for
teachers and that they will need time to get to know your
child and they will make mistakes.
Try to be approachable and supportive even if they get it
Remember you do know your child best.
Be prepared to share your experiences of what works well at
home so the teacher has something to go on and can adapt or
incorporate strategies that work into the school environment.
Explain to the teacher that many of our children do not transfer
skills/behaviour between home and school so it is important
that both school and home communicate.
Encourage discussions with school about ways they can help
your child and ways you can support them to do so.
Try to make sure you don’t always pop into see the teacher
when things go wrong, pop in and tell them the positives too!!
year, some things you can try before the school year ends:
meeting with your child’s new teacher and visiting their new
classroom helps reduce some of the anxieties and gives you
the chance to discuss your child's support needs with the
new teacher in advance.
If your child is helped by visual supports, perhaps taking
photos of the new teacher and classroom that they can refer
to over the holidays can help them to adapt to the changes
at their own pace.