The world’s biggest athletics carnival for children with autism is an initiative of Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), the largest not-for-profit autism-service provider in Australia.
The very notion seemed impossible to many when the concept was first conceived five years ago: children on the autism spectrum often find over stimulation and change in routine too much to handle.
But Aspect believed deeply in the value of bringing its students together in a spirit of fun and competition – while enjoying a sense of belonging to a broader ASD community.
Children with ASD often find it difficult to cope with social interactions due to impaired communication, restricted and repetitive interests, and sensory sensitivities.
Preparation was key to the success of the Aspect Athletics Carnival. Aspect school principals, parents, carers and teachers spent weeks and months helping minimise surprises for the children on the day.
This involved spending time practicing, walking and talking through what to expect, and guiding students in ways to respond and behave in expected situations.
For more pictures from the event visit Autism Spectrum Australia’s facebook page.
Interview (a week after the event) with Assistant Director, Education – Aspect Schools Elizabeth Gadek: