Monday 22 August 2016

5 ways watching the Olympics is good for my autistic kids

Swimming race helps our son with autism

Last week saw the closing ceremony for the Olympics Games 2016 in Rio.  I've been glued to parts of the games, commiserated, applauded and stayed up too late to watch finals. And I'm not the only one.

Our eight year old son Anthony has also been excited by the spectacle of The Games.  He has autism and sometimes needs help to know what's happening on the screen.  There are lots of events, in different places, with different people and rules. In addition to learning about the different sports there are, he's also had the opportunity to learn about attitudes too.  Here are five good things the  games have shown Anthony.

1. We are proud of our friends and our team even when they are last
Some of my kids have intense anxiety. Anxiety and other mental health issues affect nearly 70% of people with autism. The concern over losing can worry even the calmest of kids but throw autism and anxiety into the mix and it can be a real fear. We had to spend time helping Anthony overcome his fear of coming last at his swimming gala.  He nearly didn't take part because he was worried about coming last. We used the Olympics to help him. The greatest sports people from all over the world lose in every single race.  And we are still proud of them. We still cheer them on and we support them in every event they take part it.

2. To try again
Didn't win in the last Olympics but they still come back years later and try again.  Many kids with autism find many things hard. Some have difficulty with school, or with friends or with simple tasks like getting dressed or leaving the house. Some have difficult with their sensory systems. But Olympians always try their best, and try again. Cyclist, Mark Cavendish, has won many events including four world titles on road on track. But in the last two Olympic Games he has missed out on a medal.  Though he may have preferred a gold medal, Mark Cavendish won a silver medal in the Omnium. Nick Shelton became an Olympic gold medallist in his seventh Games at age 58, after initially retiring 16 years ago when he broke his neck in two places. Things may be difficult but you can keep trying and one day you may succeed. Keep going and in the meantime, you can be proud of your efforts.

3. Everyone makes mistakes
Anthony finds making mistakes very difficult. It makes him anxious and he has a hard time moving on until it is corrected or he feels OK.  Simone Biles, an American gymnast fell off the beam. She still managed to win a bronze medal on the apparatus and went on to win her fourth medal gold on the floor afterwards.

4. It's OK to be sad when you miss out
If a grown man can be gutted on missing out on a medal then so can an eight year old boy. Britain's Richard Kruse came fourth in the foil, the Woman's rugby sevens missed out on the bronze,  Men's gymnastics team came fourth and Adam Gemili was 'gutted' and found it 'heartbreaking' to miss out on a bronze in the 200m final by 3/1000s of a second. It's tough, but it's OK.

And perhaps underlying all of these..

5. We celebrate doing our best
Usain Bolt won the 200m but was disappointed not to beat his own record. However, Welsh swimmer, Chloe Tutton bowed out at the semi-final stage of the 100m breaststroke in Rio but still finished her first day of Olympic competition with a personal best and Welsh record. In the earlier heat, the 20-year-old had recorded a new best of 1:06:88 to qualify 12th fastest overall to reach the semi-finals. She did not progress further but we are still proud of her achievements. 

My parents always told me and now I tell my kids, I'm proudest when you try your best. Let them shine in their own way. What did you take away from The Games?

Linked on:
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  1. Sir wasn't too bothered about the Olympics to be honest, I don't think sport is his *thing* but Madam loved it! she's very competitive though and a sore loser.. hopefully she'll have leant it's okay not to win all the while.!

    1. Admittedly our three year old hasn't learnt that either!

  2. What a great post, such a lovely way of using the Olympics to help you son and all children really. #MMBC

  3. Great thoughts in this list!

  4. Very creative way to teach a child some good lessons. Unfortunately, we didn't watch much of the olympics this time aroung. Just not enough time to go around. Peachy is too little anyway. For now she prefers colourful things with silly sounds. #BloggerClubUK

  5. Oh yes I agree with all of these. We watched the Olympics as a family too and it was really great to reinforce all these messages #ablogginggoodtime

  6. This is precisely what we tell our boys too. Try your best. And it is the only rule I have in my classroom too. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

  7. we watch a lot of sports and agree that there are many great lessons to be learned from them. Didn't watch a single minute of the Olympics this year though. I don't know why, we just weren't into it #thelist

  8. I always think big sporting events are brilliant for any children. The OH isn't an Olympics fan, but N's like me and loved it. Just seeing his knowledge increase of all the sports, the countries, learning the flags, and about the competitions. I just think it's inspired him a lot. #theList

  9. Such a lovely post! It's always great when we watch something on television and we learn something from it which we can then apply to our everyday lives, isn't it? #MarvMondays

  10. What a great post. So many possible lessons to be learned. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

  11. oh wow what a fantastic post. all very true and brilliant to show and learn any child

  12. I didn't think it like this! What great reasons to have watched it. Thanks for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRt

  13. The Olympics are so inspiring in so many ways - what a great way to help teach your children #EatSleepBlogRT

  14. How great that he enjoyed them, I think we can all learn so much from the athletes! Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo


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