Rec Centers don't usually widely advertise this, but I was told that under IDEA, they're required to provide aides for special needs kids wanting to enroll in 'regular' classes (dance, gymnastics, swim, etc). I'm not 100% happy with the adaptive sports options, so am going to request aides for swim lessons in the fall. I've kept my girls out of sports and activities so far because I know they need help staying focused and following what the class is doing.
I actually enrolled mine on a regular baseball team thought it was only fair to give him a chance. It was a disaster but I'm really glad I tried cause least that's one what if I don't have to live with.
My son is 4.5yrs. A couple months ago we joined the YMCA and I am so glad we did! The instructors have all been amazing to work with and it's a very supportive community. I opted to do private 1:1 swim lessons as that is an area I knew my son needed extra time and patience in learning. He attends 2x/week for 30min and loves it! I also enrolled him in group gymnastics 2x/week for 45 min. There are anywhere from 3-5 peers and all are NT. I'm very open about discussing my son's autism and everyone has responded thus far with empathy and friendship for both my son and I.
We tried regular soccer. We ended up dropping it. He grew 4 inches one year and had a tendency to walk on his toes. Due to the growth his tendons shortened and he just couldn't run the whole time.
We moved him to Tae Kwon Do. The stretching and all the left/right body movements really helped him and mirrored what he was doing in OT. Also, because it isn't team oriented but personal best it worked for him. He is a second degree black belt after 8 years and competes at tournaments. He is 13. He does still have problems during sparring since he has a really high tolerance for pain so sometimes he hits too hard. We stress control.
The only adaptive thing he has ever done was horseback lessons at a therapeutic riding academy. It was good for him, because it had a lot of OT activities in it. Later he moved to vaulting and drill team which required a lot of team work and social interaction.
I tried a variety of things. When my son was 3 he tried soccer with typical 3yr olds. He would run around like most, but got nothing out of it so eventually I took him out. I also tried sports camps at school that said special needs kids are welcome. Well, it was too overwhelming for him being in a big gym so I took him out after one session. When he was 5 he joined Kung Fu at a wonderful place. The teachers were understanding and loved him! He did ok, but after about 4 months he started to refuse going. I made him go for 4 more months off and on, but decided he just wasnt getting anything out of it and wasting the class time. Now that my son is 7 we are back at kung fu and he LOVES it. My suggestion is just try and keep trying. Also, some of the special needs events that we have been to are such a relaxed atmosphere, making my son feel less anxious. Its a fine line between pushing your kids and knowing when they are just not ready. Some special needs programs are great, others not so much. I've gotten some really great information just from word of mouth. Get to know people in your community and see if they've had luck. My son likes swimming too, so he does that with a private teacher. Tried it with a few other kids, but he did much better w/out any distractions. You'll know when you find a match. :) Dont give up and keep looking..
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