As autism awareness month winds down, Ausome is gearing up to continue moving the needle from awareness to action. We’re proud to announce the release of an important new resource that we hope will be a catalyst for transformative change in communities across the country: A Blueprint for Building Quality Participation in Sport for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It is not enough for our school and community sports and recreation programs to allow children and youth on the autism spectrum to join in if those programs are not built to adequately support their true participation.
That’s why Ausome partnered with researchers at Queen’s University and the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP; an alliance of university, public, private and government sector partners who work to enhance community participation among Canadians with disabilities) to address the gaps and shortfalls in those sports and recreation programs that all too often leave children and youth on the autism spectrum on the sidelines.
Children and youth on the autism spectrum, their parents and caregivers, program staff and volunteers were surveyed to assess perceptions and experiences that children and youth on the autism spectrum have in sports and recreation programs, and to generate and prioritize evidence-based strategies to foster their quality participation. CDPP contributed additional research to the project, which was published here.
From that and other research, six fundamental building blocks for quality participation emerged:
- Autonomy: Having independence, choice, control
- Belonging: Feeling included, accepted, respected, part of the group
- Challenge: Feeling appropriately tested
- Engagement: Being in-the-moment, focused, absorbed, fascinated
- Mastery: Feeling a sense of achievement, accomplishment, competence
- Meaning: Obtaining a personal or socially meaningful goal; feeling a sense of responsibility to others
To be properly adopted, these building blocks must also be supported by a foundation of safe, welcoming and inclusive environments in which young athletes on the autism spectrum can play.
A Blueprint for Building Quality Participation in Sport for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder forms that research into a powerful and versatile tool to educate coaches, teachers, instructors, associations, leagues and other sports and recreation providers across the country on how to audit their programs, identify gaps in support and implement the evidence-based strategies outlined in the Blueprint to make them more accessible to and inclusive of all children and youth on the autism spectrum.
It is fitting that the Blueprint is being released in Autism Awareness Month, during which Ausome is calling on those in our community not touched by autism to join us in moving the needle from awareness to action.
One way to act now is by signing up for yourself, your organization or your company for Ausome Training to help better understand autism and steps you can take to make our community more inclusive of all individuals on the autism spectrum.
That is how we will bring about transformative change, together.