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Can Special Kids Do Gymnastics?

Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 is going to be held in Austria in the host cities of Graz and Schladming as well as in the places Ramsau am Dachstein and Rohrmooos-Untertal on March 14 to 25, 2017. This event is going to be strictly composed of winter sports, but on other seasons the movement hosts 32 different Olympic disciplines competitions for more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries.

For those of us who are not familiar with Special Olympics, is it a worldwide movement of people which establishes a new world of inclusion and community where each individual is accepted and included, irrespective of their abilities or disabilities. This is the biggest international sport movement for people with intellectual disabilities.

This is a very impressive movement, and you might wonder, why so? This is because the organization promotes non-seclusion to our kids who might have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other types of mental disabilities. By engaging in sports or going as far as competing in their chosen sports, kids who have special needs can develop their social skills and strengthen their gross and fine motor skills.

Special Olympics Gymnastics

Why are sports good for kids with special needs?

Let’s take children with ASD who has chosen rhythmic gymnastics as their sport as a case study. Why would this sport be good for them? Gymnastics is a phenomenal developmental foundation in its own right. Unlike other sports or disciplines, gymnastics encompasses a vast arena of developmental skills, including cognition and motor skill development, gross and fine motor skills, social skills, self-esteem, and body confidence.

Gymnastics constantly needs the young gymnast’s brain to work in connection with her body as she becomes physically stronger, and the sport makes this possible. Gymnastics is also able to encompass so many positive components for children with disabilities through integrating conceptual themes like stop and start, lead and follow, apart and together, positive reinforcement, social integration and various approaches to problem solving.

Rhythmic Coach Special

How would kids with gross/fine motor challenges be able to do gymnastics?

The key factor here is one person—the coach, and as parents of a child with special needs, we have to choose our kid’s coach very carefully. The coach, or the gym he represents, must be able to adjust their programs based on the needs of our child, especially keeping their safety. They cannot force our child to work on a noisy gym and already start at an advanced (for our child’s abilities) skill.

A good coach or gym gets to know our young aspiring gymnast and develops a program based on his findings. He needs to be patient enough to start a couple of one-on-one sessions first before slowly, very slowly, starting to pair our kid to another kid, and then team a lot of them up. A partner couldn’t be just anyone as well. She needs to have the same abilities and skill level as our child, so our own kid doesn’t feel left out and start having attacks like hair pulling and screaming. As for the skills, it must be taught in very small increments of difficulty level.

Another trait of a good coach is long patience. Kids with ASD are not easy to deal with and they all have different triggers to their attacks. He must be familiar with those triggers and avoid them at all costs. He must inspire our kids to do better at the sport and encourage them if they reached a new milestone, like doing a flip, no matter how small of a progress it was.

Finally, we need a coach who would treat our special children like they are his own child.

To read more fitness and gymnastics-related articles, visit our educational blogs. Experience a fun and imaginative gymnastics training, come and enroll today at Bianka Panova Sport and Art Academy where we treat your children like our own :)

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