Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, marked by multiple symptoms that include atypicalities in:
Social interactions (i.e. people with autism would often find it difficult to understand others' mental states and emotions, and respond accordingly)
Repetitive behaviour (i.e. people with autism might repeat certain words or actions over and over, usually in a rigid rule-governed manner).
There is a wide variability in the degree to which these symptoms manifest themselves, leading to the use of the term 'autism spectrum disorders' (ASD).
The above information is used courtesy of www.autism.org.uk.
Other disorders such as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) can have similar manifestations as ASD and therefore the information below can be applied in these cases.
A person with ASD can ski and enjoy the mountains with family and friends! Ski 2 Freedom has many clients who have discovered the joys of the snow and magic of the mountains. Most ski schools have qualified instructors who should be able to work with children and adults who have social or communication issues and other conditions relating to ASD.
Confidence on the snow is the key issue and it is well worth investing in the excellent private tuition that is on offer by the ski schools. Once the person has gained the basic skills then there is no reason why the family cannot all ski together- it is also a good idea to return to the same ski resort for a couple of winters just to maintain that special relationship and new found confidence.
Your initial enquiry to the ski school should include as much background information on the skier as possible. Discussing in detail the skier’s specific needs and condition(s) is VITAL to ensure both the ski school and you know what is going to happen and to ensure you are matched with the right ski instructor and/or equipment. This may include a discussion about other associated health and social needs such as epilepsy, asthma, communication and social awareness skills and any recent medical developments.
The severity of a condition or Syndrome will ascertain as to the level of ski instruction which is required. Important to any person’s experience of learning to ski, but perhaps even more crucial for a person with ASD or a similar condition, is a special relationship between ski instructor and client – it is therefore probably more productive to have a 1:1 instruction until a required level is reached. Although this will add to the overall expense of the holiday there is no doubt that a far higher rate of progression will result and a higher degree of self-confidence achieved by the skier.
Understanding an individual's specific needs is vital to having the ultimate experience on snow. Ski 2 Freedom works in close partnership with many ski schools to ensure that we can identify which ones and which ski instructors will work best with a child or adult who has a learning difficulty.
Many of the ski schools have a good idea of what is required especially when it comes to equipment and clothing, in particular the ski boots. Do ensure that you ask the ski school if they can recommend a ski hire shop for such items. In many cases of ASD, specialist ski equipment is not required. However, as some children or adults with a learning difficulty have a problem with balance and/or an associated orthopaedic problem often with their feet, it is essential to have good fitting ski boots and someone who understands about carrying out any adaptations that might be required.
In Europe, the US, Canada and worldwide there will be ski instructors with experience in teaching those with learning difficulties to ski, it is more than likely that whichever resort you choose there will be someone who will be able to help you. However, going somewhere where skiers with a similar condition have gone before may well be a source of comfort and reassurance. We are delighted to be able to list below resorts of which we have personal experience.
If you would like information on other ski resorts please contact us.
The National Autistic Society www.autism.org.uk
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