Special Needs

If your child has special needs, he/she will find a home at Chattooga. Students are evaluated individually and then placed in a program that will meet their needs. Your child will be challenged to reach his/her potential in a safe, welcoming atmosphere. Students with special needs can choose to participate in a variety of competitive and performance activities with mainstream and Special Olympics athletes. Parents of students with special needs find the waiting area at the gym a great place to exchange ideas and lend support to each other.

Reprinted from USAGymnastics Technique Magazine Nov./Dec. 2009

Incorporating Special Olympics into Group Gymnastics
By Luan Peszek

Cindy Bickman owns Chattooga Gymnastics in Marietta, Ga. Bickman has found a way to incorporate special needs children and Special Olympics into her gymnastics programs. Bickman has 50 special needs students in her gym, most...read more

Reprinted from USAGymnastics Member News April 2010

Teaching Gymnastics to Students with Autism
By Cindy Bickman

For a gymnastics instructor, teaching a student who has autism can be scary at first.  Many of these children can easily be mainstreamed in a class, but others require one on one instruction and have difficulty participating in a busy gym environment. For a gymnastics instructor, teaching a student who has autism can be scary at first.  Many of these children can easily be mainstreamed in a class, but others require one on one instruction and have difficulty participating in a busy gym environment.  Yes, it may be helpful for the instructor to have a background in special education, but it's not necessary.  The parents of a child with autism are usually the best resource.  They can share information about the student's physical and mental development, communication skills, and helpful hints about working with the child.  Before including a student who has autism in a class, it is best to schedule an interview to introduce the student to the instructor as well as show him/her around the gym.  It is important to determine whether the child will be able to participate in a mainstream class, a special needs class, or require one on one instruction.   Once you have enrolled a student with autism in your gym, the adventure begins!  Often these children have trouble communicating and expressing their feelings, but when they want to take extra turns on the trampoline and eagerly reach for the high bar, you know they are learning and having fun at gymnastics.  I have found that teaching students with special needs has made me a better instructor.  I have to be more organized in the structure of my class, break skills down into very minute parts to make sure the students are always safe and successful, and give clear and concise instructions in the same way every time.   Parents of students with autism want the same things for their children that all parents want.  Manya Parker says this about her daughter's experience in gymnastics:  "I think that gymnastics has helped Darby in all aspects of her life.  One of the most important things to me is the upper body strength and coordination.  She seems to really enjoy the music, and the movement of it. The rhythmic side of gymnastics got her attention span to really expand from a few minutes in the beginning to the whole class time now.  We will continue with gymnastics as long as it helps her and she enjoys it.  Darby says gymnastics is really good and she likes the ball, ribbon, and rope the best. Darby also says that she likes to see all her friends at practice."    Children who have autism face challenges in life everyday.  Amanda Baskin, whose daughter has taken gymnastics for two years, wrote this:  "After a very hard week at school, when Charlotte had been bullied and one child had even told her he was going to shoot her dead, I asked Charlotte what she would like to do that would make her feel better.  Without hesitation she said to me "I want to go to gymnastics, it makes me feel good."  When all is said and done, children who have autism are just kids.  They need a place to learn to run, jump, tumble, swing, balance, and climb.  But most of all, they need a place where they feel welcome, and an instructor who believes in them and encourages them to be the best that they can be, no matter what challenges they face in life.   Submitted by Cindy Bickman USA Gymnastics' Special Olympics Contact.

A Poem

Special Needs
Rhythmic gymnastics for students with special needs.

 

Special Needs Special Needs
Special Needs Artistic gymnastics for students with special needs.
Special Needs Special Olympians practice with their Unified Partners
Special Needs Special Needs
Special Olympians practice with their moms
Special Needs
Ballet Class