We have signed an agreement allowing autistic children between 18 months and 9 years old to play sport at ASPTT clubs.
A group of “normal” children are led by a teacher. The autistic child is supported by a specialised teacher who has prepared them for the exercises in advance using a tablet. All the children can play sport together, breaking down barriers.
Initially we supported this inclusion initiative with a pilot scheme at the Montpellier Métropole ASPTT in coordination with the Autism Resources Centre, led by Professor Amaria Bagdhali from the Montpellier university hospital. The results of this initial experience with 7 autistic children are very positive, so it will be progressively expanded across the country: the ASPTT Sporting Federation has already proposed this activity in 4 new clubs in Toulouse, Marseille, Strasbourg and Rouen. The activities involved are sports initiation workshops (kidiSPORT®), swimming or any other sport chosen by the autistic child. This educational and sporting programme will expand each year to 4 new clubs in order to progressively spread across France. By 2020, everywhere in France children with autism will be able to play their favourite sport with “normal” children.
The agreement signed with the Orange Foundation helps ensure the successful launch in order to sustain this scheme in the long term.
“We are proud to support this initiative, which aims to reduce the isolation experienced by the families of children with autism,” said Brigitte Audy, our secretary general.
How are the sports activities run?
A group of 10 children “led” by the lead instructor including one autistic child “coached” by a specialised “Adapted Physical Activities” sports instructor: it uses a 1 to 1 method.
To allow the autistic children to take part in the best possible conditions and contribute to their physical and mental development, the educational programme is designed in close collaboration with the Autism Resources Centre. It is based on:
- 1 qualified and certified APA (Adapted Physical Activity) instructor for 1 autistic child.
- A general sports programme (from BABYsport®, to KIDISPORT+® and kidiSPORT®).
- A fun and progressive approach to physical and sporting activities.
- Adapted equipment and tools to make it easier for the instructor to teach the child.
- Individual monitoring of the child and regular updates with parents.
- Advice to parents and children on selecting an activity.
Parents and siblings are key parts of this project. Activities are suggested to them and a weekly debriefing is organised with the APA instructor.
Mrs. Garcia, mother of Louca who takes part in swimming lessons at Montpellier Métropole ASPTT
"Our son Louca has always liked the water, it’s a place where he feels at ease, which allows him to build his self-confidence, so two years ago I started looking for an association that could look after my son.
First I tried children’s swimming lessons, my son loved it, but the only problem is that he went round all the facilities very quickly and got bored, plus I had to be there with him, so then we tried regular swimming lessons but they didn’t work as there was no personalised supervision.
When the CRA contacted us, I jumped for joy!!!! Montpellier Métropole ASPTT meets all of my son’s criteria: welcoming staff, individual support from someone who is trained in autism, and lessons with other children in a normal environment. The quality of the support is also very important, we loved meeting Sandrine, the sports instructor who is one of the few people who are tolerant but also highly involved and an excellent listener.
Our son can do anything so long as we take time and encourage him.”
Charlyse Mas, mother of Quentin who takes part in the kidiSPORT® lessons
"It is an opportunity for Quentin to take part in sport at his own pace: throughout the session, Sandrine is there to encourage him, guide him, and explain the instructions... Without this support, it would have been impossible for Quentin to join the group.
My son is not like other children. He can’t wear the armbands in his group’s colour, and he needs someone to help him understand the instructions, as he doesn’t speak much, but he is with other children of his age and he is happy.”
In 2020, autistic children will be able to play sport in a standard environment throughout France at ASPTT clubs. In order to reach this target, we are asking 4 clubs a year to welcome at least 4 children per season.