Bicycling with special needs: Lose the Training Wheels Camp

TREXLERTOWN, Pa. — Learning how to ride a bike can be especially challenging for kids with special needs.

But the Eastern Pennsylvania Down Syndrome Center is trying to change that.

This year the group hosted a volunteer-driven camp to help children “lose the training wheels.”

via Anchors Away: Lose The Training Wheels – News Story – WFMZ Allentown.

Autism and karate: An autistic teen’s black belt

Wondering about the benefits of martial arts for children with autism? Read this story about a teenager in North Carolina who gained enormous confidence along with his black belt. Congratulations, Nick! (And congratulations to his parents for finding an activity that suited him and that he grew passionate about.)

If you met Nick Talent four years ago, he probably didn’t look you in the eye.

Shy, muted, insecure – for most 14-year-olds, those traits come with the territory.

Nick has autism.

Now he’s 18.

Extend your hand, and he’ll shake it.

Look him in the eye, and you’ll meet his gaze.

Smile and give small talk, and he’ll do the same.

Throw a punch, though, and you’ll find yourself on the ground.

Just ask his karate instructor.

via Autism didn’t knock out this athlete.

Cooking club helps autistic children build life skills

Brownie pizza was the featured entree at a recent cooking club meeting in Burlington County.

Four tiny chefs scrambled around the kitchen in the Medford community center, grating their white chocolate “cheese” and taking a quick break for “pin the pepperoni on the pizza.

“Brownie pizza may not be the most essential recipe for a 9-year-old to master, but Rosy Gruber says the cooking is secondary for her son, Jason.

“I tell people he’s going to a cooking class and they think, ‘Oh, he’s learning to cook.’ No, he’s learning to be a competent human being,” she said.

The class is part of a program organized by KidsAhead Consulting & Center for Development, which works with autistic children and their families to foster emotional development and basic life skills. KidsAhead offers consultations and parent education, with supplemental summer programs such as the cooking club, a crafts club, and a summer camp.

via Cooking club helps autistic children build life skills | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/01/2010.

It’s National Go Skateboarding Day! Take an autistic child skateboarding

The A.skate Foundation named today National Go Skateboarding Day, with the hope that skateboarders and others will take a child with autism skateboarding.

Skateboarding can be a great sport for some autistic kids – even if they never get beyond sitting on their boards – because there are no coaches, no teams relying on you and limited social skills required. Check out this ESPN story for some awesome stories about autistic children and skateboarding.

One of our major initiatives this year centers on Go Skateboarding Day. On June 21, skateboarders around the globe will celebrate the pure joy of skateboarding by dropping everything to go skate. On that day, we would love to see skateboarders everywhere make the day even more special by taking a child with autism skateboarding. It’s a crazy idea, but one that’s perfectly suited to skateboarding.

via The A.skate Foundation – National Go Skateboarding Day Campaign.

Down syndrome stories shared on “My Great Story”

The National Down Syndrome Society has a fantastic new web feature, My Great Story, that tells the stories of some of the 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the U.S. – often in their own words. There’s a place on the site for people to continue to share more great stories. Here’s the beginning of one of the stories, written by Sara Wolff of Pennsylvania:

Sara Wolff, The Public Speaker

Moscow, PA

My name is Sara Wolff. I am 24 years old and My Great Story is about my Public Speaking.

I’d first like to share a little bit about myself with you. I definitely have something unique about me—and that is an extra 21st chromosome, called Down syndrome… which, by the way, has never stopped me from doing anything!

I don’t think of myself as having “DOWN” syndrome but “UP” syndrome because I am an upbeat and positive person. I have been raised with the motto “Never” say “Never” and the words “I can’t” don’t exist.

via National Down Syndrome Society – Sara Wolff, The Public Speaker.

Surfing in the Special Olympics?

In waist-deep water off Cocoa Beach, 32-year-old Dawn Blanchard is taking only the second surfing lesson of her life, yet she manages to stand, however briefly, on nearly every wave she catches. And each time she does, she flashes a double thumbs-up, beams joyously and announces, “I did it! I did it!”

This continues for two hours. Yet no one — not the surf instructors, not the considerable crowd of earnest spectators on the beach, certainly not Blanchard herself — seems to weary.

“It’s awesome,” said Deb Spence, a Special Olympics swim coach who cheers from the beach. “She’s actually doing a lot better than I did when I started.”

Blanchard is one of Spence’s Special Olympics swimmers, and this surf lesson is part of a grand experiment to try to introduce surfing as a Special Olympics sport. It’s a collaboration between Cocoa Beach’s iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, which is picking up the tab, and Special Olympics Florida. The program launched a week ago with eight athletes, ages 18 to 43. All of them have intellectual disabilities, from Down syndrome to autism.

via Surfing in the Special Olympics? The seeds are being planted –

‘Romeo and Juliet’ inspires young Miami actors with autism, Down syndrome

The clatter of weapons echoed. The swordsman took a fatal wound to the chest and plummeted to the ground.

But instead of staying dead on the stage, Joseph Paz sat up and looked at the director.

“I don’t want to die,” he said.

Welcome to the spring performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, presented by 25 students, ages 15 to 33, from The Learning Experience School, which offers schooling for students with special needs. Many of them have Down syndrome, or autism, or another disability. The South Miami-Dade school teaches academics and functional life skills to help them integrate into society.

via Shakespearean drama inspires students’ theatrics – Education –

Exhibit features photos taken by autistic children

There are some wonderful photographs on exhibit in suburban Chicago — all taken by children with autism or other special needs.

A special photo exhibit featuring art created by autistic children is on display in Hinsdale.

The exhibit, Kids with Cameras, had the children capture the world the way they see it.

Jack Ebert, a suburban photographer and father of a son with autism, started a photography program for children with special needs in Hinsdale. He developed and framed each child’s photograph to display and sell at the third annual art show in his studio.

“It’s inspired them to be able to see things differently,” said Ebert.

via Exhibit features photos taken by autistic children |

Family bike program for children with autism

On April 24, Intensive Therapeutics, a non-profit organization for children with special needs, and Autism Family Tours with Briana, held their Bike Club Kickoff event with the help of the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments.

Members of the community were invited to attend the kickoff event, where the Scotch Plains Police Department provided bike riding safety tips for the children and their families.

The children participated in obstacle courses that tested their bike riding skills. Siblings of the new bike riders also participated in the event, making it a fun family experience.

The Intensive Therapeutics Bike Club was created to celebrate the joy of families riding together after Intensive Therapeutics and Autism Family Tours with Brianna collaborated in a six-week program called “Ready, Set, Ride”. The program helped provide a safe environment for children of all ages and abilities to share in the experience of biking riding.

via Intensive Therapeutics and Autism Family Tours with Briana host Bike Club | |

Activity helps kids learn about autism

Sometimes Madison Roberson has to explain her younger brother’s behavior to her friends.

Justin Grider is in second grade and has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and though he is an outstanding student academically, his social skills often are lacking, which is typical of autism. Autistic kids don’t always understand when someone is kidding or that they should respect personal space.

“I know my brother doesn’t have a lot of friends because people think he’s not nice,” said the fourth-grader at Hope Academy. “I had this friend, and I just told her that he’s the same as any of us, so just treat him nice. If she has a question, she just asks me, and she understands it better now.”

via Activity helps kids learn about autism.