GYMNASTICS FOR AUTISM (edited guest post from USGCOA)

Jayce Coach Gymfinity

This article is shared from the blog of the United States Gymnastics Club Owners Association (USGCOA). It was originally written to encourage club owners to offer a program in their gyms that allows for children with Autism to experience gymnastics. I did edit it from it’s original, removing the parts that applied to club owners specifically. I felt that the information was worthy of sharing with our families, friends, and fans. Gymfinity does offer a class every Saturday morning for children with special needs. We have had this program since Gymfinity started in 1999. We were then, and remain today, one of the few programs that offer a class for differently abled kids.

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Life skills through Gymnastics

Gymfinity Wisconsin USA

If the sports program is right, the following landmarks will be developed by practical application in training and in competition or performance. Parents should see each of these displayed as the coach works with the athlete and the athlete participates with the team.  Year to year and season to season the athlete maturing in skill and character should be obvious.

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Being lost with a borrowed compass

fear of a virus that statistically doesn’t have them high on the risk-o-meter.  I struggled with staying masked, for how long, which kids? I also thought about how I have kids I have been coaching for 2 years and I cannot remember what their faces look like. Then again, I worried that if we take masks off, that we will see kids by the dozens calling off due to the virus. I needed to stop. I needed to find my compass.

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Gymfinity’s Secret Sauce

Gymfinity Maddy Lund Gymnastics

We have assembled the best teachers and coaches of any gym I have seen. It is quality in the head: being able to teach and educate kids, and in the heart; having a passion for teaching, learning, and impacting others that makes these very special coaches.

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The Gifts Gymnastics Brings

Gymnasts on the beam at Gymfinity

I love gymnastics and feel that it is the best developmental tool a child can experience. Gymnasts are not only stronger, but smarter, and justifiably feel better about themselves. These are all skills that they can carry with them through life ensuring success and happiness along the way. 41 years ago, when I started teaching gymnastics, I did it because it was fun. As time went on I was shown time and again the benefits that I wrote about above. I saw the kids I coach become doctors, lawyers, mothers, politicians, engineers, counselors, teachers and more. Every one happy, Every one a success. And every day since my decision to teach gymnastics back in 1980, my mission has been validated.

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Coaching Kids in Difficult Times

Coaching at Gymfinity

Not only do you instruct, but you are also there to support and develop the gymnast as a person. Understand that instead of just coaching, you will need to make positive comments about things outside of gymnastics. Remember the sandwich method: Positive comment -correction- positive summary can apply to more than just skill development.

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How did I ever get here?

J Orkowski's High School Gymnastics Team

I look at those formative years and recall some of my role models. Most of them would not even recognize me if I walked up and shook their hand. If they did, it would be as Harry’s little brother, the quiet nerdy kid who was either reading or standing on his hands.
I was thinking the other day, how so many of the people who influence us in life rarely ever realize the impact they had. I wouldn’t even know if they were aware of me let alone know that after 40+ years, I am still in the sport.

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Defending Gymnastics

When our kids train hard, they sometimes fall. They sometimes get extra work to enforce a new technique, or they may have repercussions for failed attempts. This is not abuse, it’s coaching. They learn This is the technique I need to use for that particular skill. They learn I will push myself to get this skill to satisfy the coach but more importantly satisfy myself. They know that they are strong and resilient once they have met pain/fear and become unafraid to face it again. That lesson through life provides a young person who is willing to work to receive and is willing to stand up for themselves when others may cower. They become strong of body, spirit, and mind because they know that nothing will stand between them and their goal. Isn’t that a worthy outcome?

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The Mountain Top

Gymfinity Mountain Goals

No one said the road would be easy, but if the dream is worth attaining, then a difficult journey will only raise the value of the dream. We encourage them to work through setbacks and keep their focus on what is in front of them. The feeling of return after a setback is one of the most fulfilling feelings a person can experience if we allow it to be. We, as leaders, must stay in front of them as they tread the difficult parts. Reminding them that they will be stronger for fighting through.

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