Merry Movers - our additional needs class
Established in 2011, the Merry Movers class was designed to give families of children with additional needs or disabilities somewhere to be able to participate in regular activities with a little extra help and space.
This class has seen children with all different abilities and needs come through. We cater for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Heart Disease, Auditory Processing Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Impairment, Vision Impairment, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Intellectual Disability, Childhood Arthritis, Acquired Brain Injury and more.
Specific disability sporting groups in the local community can be hard to come by, but at Athelstone Kindergym we provide this disability support service to enable children and families of children with a special need to have a place where they can participate, feel included and have common ground with others in a secure environment.
The smaller group size of the Merry Movers class means children with additional needs can learn turn-taking at a more manageable pace, and there’s no over-crowding so children unsteady on their feet, such as with Cerebral Palsy, can have the space to learn balance without crashing into someone else.
It’s also beneficial for parents to communicate and be involved with other parents experiencing something similar, and know that they’re not alone.
We don’t require any paperwork on diagnoses, we just feel some children need to learn at a different speed, and we can help guide them to learn the same skills at a slower pace, and with more attention from our staff.
"My son has been attending the Special Needs class for two years now. I have to say, without the access to their equipment, I don’t think my son would have learned to walk so quickly. We didn’t have the room to store our own parallel bars, and who knows how much they cost, but being able to attend the Kindergym and use their bars made the world of difference! He got encouragement from the other families as well, as we all know how important the little things are to each other.
Having smaller class sizes also meant we were able to take our time moving about the room and not worry too much about bumping into other children when becoming unsteady. It’s been a fantastic experience!"
"As a mother of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I had always avoided "mainstream" activities for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it can be very overwhelming for my son to be in a large group of children who can be very loud and much more assertive and communicative than he is. This type of environment can cause him to withdraw and not participate in the activities. Secondly, because my son has delayed development, he is not very confident at climbing and general movement and can be very clumsy and so the activities at Kindergym are extremely beneficial.
Another issue we have is that our son does not understand the need to join in for group time and other structured activities. It is very comforting that we do not feel pressured and there is the flexibility for him to participate when he feels comfortable.
On a personal level, I had not enrolled my son in the normal kindergym classes; as having been part of them with my older child I have experienced the competitiveness of some parents and the judgments that can be placed on a child with special needs. Often parents with normal children can see a child reacting differently and presume it is because of “bad parenting” etc. If it is then disclosed that the child has a disability then this can result in an overcompensation or over sympathetic approach to the parent and child which also can make the environment very uncomfortable.
So for all these reasons, I really want to thank Athelstone Kindergym for starting this weekly session designed for children with special needs. I know that the Senior Occupational Therapist at Autism SA was very impressed when I spoke to her about this and agreed that there is a definite need for such a program."