Everyone Deserves to Play: Sports and Fitness for Children with Autism
On Sunday, November 15, 24 teams will participate in SAAAC’s 2nd annual Spike-4-SAAAC Volleyball tournament. The event is a charity fundraiser to help SAAAC develop a multi-sport program supported by RBC Learn to Play Project. The program looks to encourage children (ages 6-12) living with autism develop movement and social skills while being exposed to a variety of sporting opportunities.
“It’s very easy for our kids to be left out when it comes to sports and play,” says Geetha Moorthy, Executive Director of SAAAC, when speaking of the isolation many children with autism face. “People think they are not capable of physically or intellectually participating in sports, but they can if we take the time to teach them with care.”
SAAAC’s Learn to Play Program is an eight-month initiative that focuses on a new sport every month. Sports will include basketball, bowling, soccer, and more. Volunteers will be trained by the National Coaching Certification Program and will help children with autism develop fundamental movement skills. The program looks to build these basic movement skills and then move on to develop sport-specific and complex movement skills that allow participants to enjoy sport and physical activity.
How Sports Can Help Kids with Autism
-Combat childhood obesity
-Studies have shown that exercise can decrease the frequency of negative, self-stimulating behaviors that are common among individuals with autism – body rocking, spinning, head-nodding, hand flapping – behaviours that interfere with positive behaviour and learning (source: 10 Rosenthal-Malek & Mitchell, 1997)
-Opportunity to develop social skills and relationships among teammates and coaches