Adelaide father of two Andrew Davidson has set out to change the way children with Autism feel about themselves.
Davidson has been running the Grasshopper Soccer program in Adelaide for three years and saw that the non-competitive nature of the program was a huge benefit to children with Autism. Together with specialist Occupational Therapists, he has developed a revised program, Theraplay, specifically for children with ASD aged 2 – 12 years of age.
“Theraplay is an eight week soccer program that encourages everyone - including parents - to have fun, in a consistent community based environment,” said Davidson. "The kids have fun, but also learn the very basic skills of soccer including balance and kicking as well as participating in our interactive coaching style that helps build their confidence."
Launching Saturday February 7th at Gilles Plains and February 8th at Walkerville, the program has already made a difference to a number of children with ASD including five year old Jordan who was diagnosed with ASD in May last year. His mother Carlee says, “The structured sessions mean Jordan isn’t overwhelmed by unexpected changes but is encouraged to be part of a group. It’s a safe and fun environment which he looks forward each week.
“Jordan isn’t always comfortable being part of a group and doesn’t fully comprehend the concept of a game situation, which the instructors picked up on early. They put him in as goal keeper which still made him feel part of a team and also assisted greatly in developing his skills.”
The unique nature of the program has meant that children with Autism can see some remarkable changes in their skills and development including progress in the development of auditory processing skills as a result of being given clear and simple instructions with few steps and repeating the process to strengthen their gross motor skills by encouraging use of both sides of their body.
Specialist Occupational Therapist, Courtenay Karoubas has worked closely with Davidson behind the scenes to ensure that every child who attends Theraplay feels comfortable and secure in their environment. Karoubas said, “Over the past 8 years, I have found that one of the most common goals identified by parents is to develop ball skills in order to make friends. I’m an advocate for any activity that encourages fun, community participation and takes into consideration the individual needs of the child to do so.”
“Our aim is for the children to find the confidence to feel like that can do anything and the basis of the program really is encouraging them to feel this way whilst having fun and learning new skills,” Davidson said.
WHAT: Grasshopper Soccer Theraplay
WHERE: Gilles Plains and Walkerville
WHEN: Saturday February 7 (St Paul’s College, Gilles Plains)
9.30 – 10.00am
10.15 – 10.45am
Sunday February 8 (Walkerville Primary School, Walkerville)
9.30 – 10.00am
10.15 – 10.45am
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.grasshoppersoccer.com.au/adelaidenortheast/st-pauls-college or http://www.grasshoppersoccer.com.au/adelaidenortheast/walkerville or Facebook.com/GrasshopperSoccerAdelaide