Amazing school I work in, Saplings special school for children with Autism in Rathfarnham. Linking in with the whole area of mental health Awareness they have set up a PCM room (process crisis management ) to help the kids learn and understand about stress ,anxiety,emotions (good and bad) and mood swings through both visual and written language getting the kids to be in touch with their mind and bodies and what works for them in terms of recovery and calmness. Thank you Maura for this wonderful lesson this morning so insightful and great to see a school so proactive in this field to kids so young. Every school should follow this lead.
JANUARY 2016 Another great article on our athletics club from NewsFour newspaper URL:http://www.newsfour.ie/2016/02/rainbow-warriors-gets-up-and-running/
Irishtown Stadium has recently been playing host to a new running club for children on the Autism Spectrum or with special needs – the Rainbow Warriors! This team of 12 athletes between the ages of 8 and 12 meet at the stadium to train on Friday evenings each week from 5pm-7PM. What makes this team unique is that all its members are on the Autism Spectrum or have special needs. They are there on a trial basis but trainer Colin Donnelly is so pleased with how the trial is going that he is determined to make it a regular fixture. Donnelly tells NewsFour: “The beauty of running is that it is non-skill specific. It’s not like rugby or gaelic where you have to be good at catching a ball or kicking. You have to get from Point A to Point B as fast as you can, and that’s absolutely perfect for them. “I teach technique, control and body posture, which is beneficial all ’round. It has a calming effect also.” There has not been much study on the subject in Ireland, but Donnelly has carried out his own online research, sourcing American material which confirmed what he already knew of the benefits of physical exercise for those on the Autism Spectrum. “There are two key benefits for them. It develops focus and provides social interaction, which is very important,” confirms Donnelly. Donnelly’s previous career as an accountant is in stark contrast with what he is doing now, though fitness was always a big part of his life: “I was a marathon runner. When the recession hit, I found myself back in college and became qualified as a personal trainer.” Donnelly grew up with an autistic brother, which gave him insight into working with children with special needs. This is essential to the success of the group and Donnelly differentiates between Rainbow Warriors and some Special Olympics teams or other mainstream athletic groups who encourage special needs children to join them. “The emphasis is on winning and the Special Olympics participants are very driven which though it is not a bad thing, the most important thing to us is taking part. That is what makes them want to come back week after week. You need to let them be themselves. Accept them for who they are. “I am also involved in a sports group for autistic children called Open Spectrum and this competition is the first ASD athletics in the country. These kids have never gotten a chance to really run before and they are so thrilled to do it in a proper facility. A large part of the problem is that they are not getting the exercise other kids get.” Victoria White of Dodder Action has a son who is on the team, and she was instrumental in engaging Donnelly to work with the group. Donnelly says, “Victoria has been great. She volunteers and has made up a rota for parents, as we need two onsite at all times. Irishtown Stadium has also been brilliant: as well as giving the kids a feel for the track they let us use their equipment. “I’d love us to have our own equipment though and it would be great for them to have their own tracksuits. If there are any local businesses who would like to sponsor the club that would be great.” The club is set for continued growth with plans for a junior team of 5-8 year olds and possibly a second senior team. The children are not the only ones who benefit for the class as Donnelly admits, “I come home from class every week on a high.”
By Maria Shields O’Kelly
Great article on our running club which was in yesterday's evening herald and Irish independent today proving how kids with ASD can succeed and thrive thru the joy of athletics We are the only ASD Athletics club in Ireland and are always looking for new kids to join so if you are interested or know of someone then let us know.Currently we have approx 25 kids on our books of all ages and abilities enjoying themselves of a friday evening in Irishtown Stadium.
OCTOBER New Athletics class now running in Irishtown Stadium Ringsend.Cl is for 9-12yr olds,we are however in the process of setting up a junior class for 5-8yr olds.
A fantastic afternoon,in St Annes pk at Ripples 3rd annual sponsored cycle. fantastic cycling by all the kids covering the two miles up and back down the main avenue of the park
Another great afternoon at Arch Club Foxrocks monthly outdoor activities in Marlay pk. A fantastic organisation helping teens with ASD and Down Syndrome simply enjoy life and have fun.
SEPTEMBER Michael collins and I just after michael had trained for 2 months and completed the St Annes park run 5k.Michael is 13and completed the run in a fantastic time of 30mins .
AUGUST Please check out my recent podcast with Neil Hogbin of Care Activities on all things fitness and Nutrition for those on the Spectrum and how I also got started. CA 4: Colin Donnelly on fitness, nutrition, autism and learning difficulties - https://itun.es/i6Ss7CR #iTunes