We can’t stop repeating that people with autism are truly special people. They are gifted and talented, each in their own way. To discover a talent in an autistic child may take longer, but their parents’ love and care makes miracles. The hero … Continue reading
Sport therapy is important for kids with autism and at the same time it could be a great challenge for them. Some of the issues are motor functioning problems, difficulty in planning and low motivation. Exercise and team sports, such as soccer, baseball and flag football, can be a great benefit to improve these problems and also enhance the quality of everyday life for children with autism. We have talked about yoga and martial arts, having a positive impact on the behavior of children with autism, but how about a real team sport such as basketball?
The Minnesota Autism center organized a Basketball league for children with autism about three years ago. This Autism center in South Central Minnesota is a non-profit organization that support families affected by autism. The basketball league is a great success for the center and the Minnesota community. Team sports help these kids learn how to communicate with each other and how to express themselves in a small group and listening to a coach give directions. With every ball in the basket, kid’s faces light up with pride. The ability to accomplish goal, compete and to work with a group significantly boosts their confidence, which increases children overall happiness.
Occupational therapist Alexander Lopez created a “Hole in One” program: golfing for children with autism! The town of Islip is in partnership with Lopez, teaching children with high functioning autism from the ages 6 to 11 how to golf. The kids have the opportunity to enjoy the sport, while simultaneously learning coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and social skills.
The 10-week program is held in the town’s golfing facilities (at no cost to the town’s taxpayers” and at Give It Your All Sports, located in Ronkonkoma. Other therapists from the area participate as volunteers, as well as students from Stony Brook University and Touro College. This wonderful opportunity costs $30 per 90-minute session, which helps Lopez pay for the facilities and a yoga instructor.
The parents of children partaking in this opportunity are thrilled with the idea, including Stephanie and Bill MacIntosh, whose son struggles “socially, playing with other kids. He’s doing great now. He has healthy outlets.”[i]
Lopez began this program for troubled teenagers, but was more than happy to expand it to children with high functioning autism. As he puts it,
“Sports after a certain grade level gets very complicated, very cliquish. These kids, they just need attention. They’re not getting the resources anymore and they become sedentary. This is designed to help them strengthen their bodies.”
The second session is now in place, and members of the community are hopeful it will continue.
[i] “Newsday” Islip offers golf to kids with autism. 03 Nov 2013. Web. < http://www.newsday.com/long-island/towns/islip-offers-golf-to-kids-with-autism-1.6369893?print=true>