Sports designed for kids with autism

When Charlie Eckdahl’s in the water, you can’t tell he struggles with social situations and anxiety. In the pool, he’s talkative, comfortable and happy.

“I like to do backstrokes,” he said. “It’s really fun!”

The eight year old has autism and is taking part in swimming lessons specifically designed for kids on the autism spectrum.

via – Sports Teams Designed For Kids With Autism.

Wisconsin boys with special needs experience scouting life

Here’s a story about a Boy Scout troop in Wisconsin for boys with autism and other special needs. These boys have volunteered, they’ve bowled, they’ve even gone to camp.

April is Autism Awareness Month… and all month long we’ve been highlighting how the disorder is touching families in our area.

When a child is diagnosed with autism, some may focus on the things they won’t be able to do.

But one a Boy Scout Troop is opening up a world of possibilities to these boys.

“When they put on their uniform, their whole attitude changes big smiles they are happy they know what’s going to happen they are going to their meeting,” says Scout Master Dennis Dzwonkowski.

via Wausau Area Boys With Special Needs Experience Scouting Life.

Little steps take autistic kids a long way on the tennis court

The gym was filled with volunteers and schoolchildren in constant movement. There was no time to waste in their weekly tennis lesson — there were backhands, forehands and volleys to practice.

In some ways, it looked like any other after-school program.

In other ways, it was vastly different.

The smiles on the faces, the eye contact, the hand-eye coordination, the communication between instructor and student — all are things that can be challenging to come by with this group.

For the past two years, Brian Dorval and Pam Almeter have been developing an adaptive tennis program for children with autism and teaching the game and its skills to children ages 5 to 17 at Summit Educational Resources in Getzville.

via Net gains: Little steps take autistic kids a long way on the tennis court : NeXt : The Buffalo News.

Play improves social skills in kids with autism: study

CHILDREN with autism who attend weekly playgroups have improved development and social skills, a study has found, supporting the inclusion of children with autism into mainstream education.

The study, by national peak body Playgroup Australia, shows 80 per cent of the families who took part in the groups designed for autistic children reported an improvement in their children’s social development. It found a lack of play can aggravate social isolation for children with autism, hindering their transition to school.

via Play improves social skills in kids with autism: study | The Autism News.

Autism: It’s Summer Camp Time Again

If you are thinking about finding a summer camp for your child with autism, read this post by Debbi Taylor, an autism mom, Autism Research Specialist, author and speaker. She has come up with a great list of questions for camp directors to get you going.

I won’t lie, this time of year typically throws me into a panic. Memories of being burned repeatedly and having my poor son bounced from program to program each summer makes me dread the search for a summer camp solution that is within a single parent’s budget yet offers my child the support he needs.I always assume that providing all pertinent information, tips, schedule samples, copies of the IEP, challenges, typical behaviors, and dietary restrictions up front will be sufficient and ensure success for all parties involved. Then, usually a week in, I get a call from the director who acts blatantly surprised and shocked that my son is having problems in large, loud groups and is acting out.

via It’s Summer Camp Time Again… HELP! | Spirit of Autism.

Activities for Children with Autism

In the spirit of Autism Awareness month, this is the opportunity to find out more about this condition and meet the needs of your autistic child. Autism affects almost one in six children in the United States, and it can be easily coped with through specific activities that are best suited for the autistic child.

Here are the top choices:

1. Songs: Songs and poetry are the perfect choice for autistic children, who may like the sound of a repetitive song. Rhyming will keep the attention of your autistic child, especially with the use of interactive songs that require skipping or clapping. This is the chance to reach your autistic child creatively and even have him or her makeup songs of their own.

via Activities for Children with Autism | autisable.

“Dancing Hands” and Alzheimer’s disease

Dancing Hands is a program that uses hand tapping and music to engage Alzheimer’s patients. I think providing music in a group setting, combined with the creative outlet of producing “taps”, illustrates that persons suffering from Alzheimer’s enjoy engaging in creative activities.

via Alzheimer’s Reading Room: Can “Dancing Hands” Help Alzheimer’s Patients Be “More There”?.

Garden Therapy for Autism, Alzheimer’s & More 

Gardening makes us feel good. Ask anyone with a green thumb, even those whose bodies ache from weeding, and they will extol the health benefits of this very satisfying hobby. Although we gardeners do not need validation for our commitment to this pastime, it is comforting to read that professionals agree with us. Of course, their language is more academic than our own vernacular, but that does not stop us from appreciating their remarks.

via - BASIL AND SPICE MIND AND BODY – Garden Therapy: Aids Autism & More (3/2010).

Football talk used to fight Alzheimer’s

Here’s an interesting post on the benefits of talking about football for dementia sufferers. The study is in Scotland, so the “football” being discussed may be called “soccer” in the United States – but whatever football is familiar to your care recipient is probably appropriate. The man who runs the football-chat group doesn’t claim it will cure Alzheimer’s, but that the seems to elevate participants’ moods and increase their interest in being social.

The conversational skills of a dementia sufferer, who only used to speak to reveal what he wanted for dinner or to say that he was going to bed, has returned after joining a group of men sharing their memories of great football games.

George Jaconelli runs a weekly group in Prestwick, where men with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia meet to revive long-past football memories.

He said that the practice could have an amazing effect.

Now, a study has supported this by showing that dementia sufferers can start to communicate again and see their symptoms reduced, even if just for a short time.

via Football replay used to fight Alzheimer’s | Armoks News.