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.

Golf for young adults with Down syndrome

Here’s a post about a golf class for young adults with Down syndrome at a resort in Spain.

La Manga Club’s first golf course for youngsters from the ASIDO association recently came to an end with a Par 47 tournament and prize giving hosted by Golf Pro and Course Tutor, Mark Hook.

Every Thursday afternoon since last October, La Manga Club Golf Academy has been filled with young people eager to learn all the secrets and benefits of golf. A total of 10 students attended the course, during which they have worked on golf skills such as the swing, stance and build-up routine. The young golfers have not just improved their technical skills, but have also worked on concentration and focus, memory skills and psychological aspects such as self-esteem and social skills.

via Golf course for young people with Downs Syndrome finishes at La Manga Club | La Manga Club Official Blog for La Manga Resort in Murcia, Spain with Golf Holidays, 5 star hotel, tennis breaks, Spa La Manga Club.

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 – OrlandoSentinel.com.

Autism: Fathers, Sons, The Yankees & Autism

Here’s a good post by WCBSTV.com Senior Sports Producer Jeff Capellini, who recently took his 7-year-old son to his first Yankee game. The deafening cheers that followed a grand slam were not what the dad of a PDD-NOS kid was looking for, but, as you’ll see, dad and son got something out of the game, anyway.

I might have been the only person in the Bronx on Sunday who didn’t do backflips when Jorge Posada crushed that grand slam against the Houston Astros.

As the ball sailed deep into a sea of humanity in right center I was instantly beamed to a place I feared I’d visit at some point during my 7-year-old son’s first visit to Yankee Stadium.

It was damage control time in the world of the autistic spectrum.

via Green Lantern: Fathers, Sons, The Yankees & Autism – wcbstv.com.

Florida Tech’s tennis clinic raises autism attention

Students at Florida Tech’s Scott Center for Autism Treatment had a ball and learned valuable skills, thanks to the university’s tennis team, which recently hosted a tennis clinic for the children.

The event was part of “Aces for Autism,” the tennis team’s initiative to raise awareness and funds for the Scott Center. The clinic addressed the specific needs of children with autism and provided a fun activity for their families. The tennis team also gained valuable skills in helping children with disabilities.

via ‘Aces’ raises autism attention | floridatoday.com | FLORIDA TODAY.

Autism group touts skateboarding’s benefits

Team sports are not for everyone. That doesn’t mean all sports are out. This mom found the perfect outlet for her son with autism – skateboarding. The sport has been so helpful to her son,  she started a foundation, A.skate Foundation,  that offers skateboarding clinics to children with autism

Skateboarding is considered “cool” for many kids, but for kids with autism, it can also be something more — a therapeutic outlet.

“It’s often really difficult for kids with autism to be part of organized sports,” said Chrys Worley, a West Blocton mom whose 7-year-old son has autism.

Autism, a developmental disability, often affects speech and social interaction. That is one reason skateboarding works well, because the kids can be independent. It’s a sport where uniqueness is celebrated, Worley said.

via Autism group touts skateboarding’s benefits | TuscaloosaNews.com.

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 | mycentraljersey.com | MyCentralJersey.com.

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 WDIO.com – Sports Teams Designed For Kids With Autism.

Ballplayers with special needs take to field of their dreams

LEXINGTON, Mass. — With a look of determination, Mike DiCiero deftly positioned his wheelchair nearly perpendicular to the pitcher, gripped the aluminum bat with his right arm, and swung hard.

Three times the ball went sailing into foul territory, over the third base line. The fourth time he connected, the ball landed just out of reach of the pitcher, and DiCiero powered his chair toward first base. For the 18-year-old Peabody resident, it was the first base hit, in the first at-bat, in the first baseball game he had ever played.

It was a circle-the-calendar day for many families yesterday as Little Leagues around the area marked Opening Day, but the Cotting School’s baseball opener stood out, and not just because of the new artificial turf and new uniforms.

via Ballplayers with special needs take to field of their dreams – The Boston Globe.

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.