Anyone have experience coaching special needs children?

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Kiwi

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So, our gym is just starting a class for special needs kids, and guess which coach has been assigned to the class. I'm about the least experienced coach at our gym! I'm guessing maybe she chose me because she would rather have someone more mature (i.e. older) than a teenager.

There are six kids and their parents will be helping them. I don't know all their disabilities yet, but apparently they are quite severe - one in a wheelchair, one with no limbs, etc.

My question is, does anyone here have experience with this kind of coaching? How did you run the class? What kind of activities worked well? Any advice appreciated, I'm feeling kind of thrown in the deep end here.
 
I'm not a coach, but our gym has a special needs class. I watch it every Saturday as I am there with my 2 daughters and I stay and work. They have 2 typically developing peers from the gym come and work with these kids (with the coaces of the class). They are in middle school and are great with the special needs kids. Over the course of the year they become friends and because they are the same age the special needs kids get a good example of how to do things, are included and have a great opportunity to really develop alongside very good gymnasts. I love watching this class!
 
if any have Down's syndrome, do NOT do forward or backward somersaults/rolls.

I attended a recent seminar run by BG about special need coaching - its was quite informative - I think I have the notes on a datastick and I will pm them to you. BG requires all downs gymnasts to have a scan to see if they can safely participate (google atlantiaxial instability)

'Margo
 
i'm all too familar with the above condition. i would love to read what's on your datastick.:)
 
Okay, so I'm prepared to have some people disagree with me on this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm kind of disappointed that your club is starting a program for special needs children without having someone on staff that is qualified and trained to coach these types of individuals. As mentioned above, some types of "special needs" are more dangerous than others, and having a person coaching these children that does not know all of the ins and outs/dos and don'ts etc of each of the special needs that will be represented in the class is irresponsible, greedy, and potentially dangerous.

I am a gymnastics instructor and I can tell you with 100% certainty that if I were approached to coach children that had needs that surpassed my expertise, I would politely decline and explain my reasoning. always better to be safe than sorry.
 
My background is special education & I also coach kids with special needs (in both a special program and integrated classes) and it is SO individual depending on the kid and the disability. For significant physical disabilities I wouldn't feel comfortable running a class without a lot of input from a physical or occupational therapist that had a deep understanding of the abilities and capabilities of the kids.

We also require an xray and a doctor's statement for athletes with Down Syndrome, per Special Olympics recommendations.

(SO does have a gymnastics program of sorts for athletes with severe physical disabilities in addition to their 'stream' for more physically able Special Olympians, but they are SO not a complete curriculum & an expert in your gymnasts & adaptive PE type stuff is the person who can give you that).
 
I'm not a coach, but our gym has a special needs class. I watch it every Saturday as I am there with my 2 daughters and I stay and work. They have 2 typically developing peers from the gym come and work with these kids (with the coaces of the class). They are in middle school and are great with the special needs kids. Over the course of the year they become friends and because they are the same age the special needs kids get a good example of how to do things, are included and have a great opportunity to really develop alongside very good gymnasts. I love watching this class!

I really like this idea! It's good both for the kids with special needs and the kids without. My dd would love to be part of this type of group.
 
Okay, so I'm prepared to have some people disagree with me on this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm kind of disappointed that your club is starting a program for special needs children without having someone on staff that is qualified and trained to coach these types of individuals. As mentioned above, some types of "special needs" are more dangerous than others, and having a person coaching these children that does not know all of the ins and outs/dos and don'ts etc of each of the special needs that will be represented in the class is irresponsible, greedy, and potentially dangerous.

I don't totally disagree with you, I was a little surprised myself. I don't think they are necessarily being greedy. New Zealand is a very small place, the gym world here is tiny, there are actually very few places they could go. The class is being run through a trust that funds sports for people with disabilities, and there was a lady there helping who seemed to be from there. I think this trust is probably sending people to all kinds of sports and I think you just wouldn't find many people trained in coaching for special needs in all these sports. We are relying on the parents to help during the class and their knowledge of what their kid is able to do.

I didn't manage to check here before going to the class today, but anyway the class went okay. The gym boss had done a class with them before and helped me somewhat. There were no Downs kids. We did some very basic stuff, like rolling sideways along a mat, and rolling a ball into some skittles. Later on they walked/crawled along a floor beam, bounced along the tumble track and jumped into the foam pit.

I had hoped to get some comprehensive information about their conditions and abilities but all I got was a list with their condition and tiny comment. So I'm relying on the parents to let me know, for example, one boy is not allowed to bend backwards. The parents are working with their kid for the whole class. Thanks for all your replies!
 

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