Tag Archive for 'autismo'

Football for children with severe autism

Cei, A., Sepio, D. (2022). A case study of psychological empowerment of three children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through football coaching. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 53(3), 281-302.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that appears during the first three years of life and is characterized by communication prob- lems, deficits in social interaction, and repetitive and restricted interests and be- haviors. Although sport provides an opportunity to promote the psychosocial and motor development of people with intellectual disabilities, few investigations have been conducted to identify the most suitable training method for children with ASD (Bremer et al., 2016).

The aim of this research was to study the psychologi- cal and motor development of three children with severe ASD. The children were placed in a sports programme called “Football Together”, which lasted 8 months and included two weekly training sessions. The development of the participants’ psychosocial and interpersonal skills was assessed through semi-structured inter- views with the parents before and after the entire period of activity. It was also assessed through systematic observation of the children’s behaviour during train- ing by a sports psychologist throughout the programme. The three children im- proved their motor and interpersonal skills through the training programme.

The training model and evaluation methods revealed the key role played by the sport and football in the motor and psychosocial development of children with ASD.

Summer camp for young with intellectual disability

Once again this year together with AS Roma we organized two weeks of summer camp for young people with intellectual disabilities. It started today and the sports activity took place in spaces organized with a sequence of motor stations so that everyone is active without moments of waiting. This allowed each child to be able to do the activity at their own pace, thus allowing them to take breaks depending on their tiredness and motivation to continue.

Having much more time to do the activity, compared to the usual training duration of 60 minutes also allows each person to take rather long breaks of 15 to 20 minutes while continuing to be on the field and then resume it having a time of 5 hours. This aspect also has a positive effect on the coaches who work in the knowledge that they do not have to urge the young person to do the activity, as can happen during the year when training time is much shorter.

Participants will be active for 5 hours per day for a total of 25 hours per week, which in quantitative terms is equivalent to 3 months of training for two hours per week. In addition, these more limited-functioning boys/girls are also unlikely to make several absences during the year, so it is not difficult to assume that for many this weekly number of hours may be equivalent to 4 months of training.

Look the video of today: WhatsApp Video 2022-06-13 at 11.33.03

Football Together and autism: The new sport season

The activities of our “Calcio Insieme” project began this week. We are now in our seventh year of activity and certainly thinking back to the first training sessions of 2015 brings to mind the fear we had in starting this program.Although we had prepared with a 32-hour training period, we were quite concerned about the responsibility we had taken on with families and these young people with autism. In addition, we had also made it our goal to document not only the activity we had done but also the motor and psychological improvements. The question we asked ourselves most frequently was: will they improve through sporting activity or are two hours a week just a drop of water in the desert represented by their limitations.

The work done in recent years has shown that the planned path was correct and despite the obvious difficulties we have come to work with many children who have become adolescents and continue to play with us. We have documented with several scientific studies the results obtained, from which we can start again to continue to improve our proposal.

This week we met to start the new 2021/22 sports season. The groups are divided by age and according to motor and psychosocial skills. With young people with greater difficulties in these areas, the resumption of activity is more complicated, since it is likely that they have not continued with outdoor activities and structured in a specific way as those of the training we propose. Each session is 50 minutes, it is for them a demanding period of constant attention to the coach or psychologist, in which they must respect the rules to which are added motor and cognitive-affective demands to which they are not accustomed. Let’s also say that it takes a lot of attention and professional passion on the part of the operators who stimulate these youngsters to carry out activities, which the parents who observe them are impressed with in a positive way. Often, they do activities, such as passing the ball, that they only do with great difficulty with their parents and that may have been abandoned because of the frustration they generate in adults.

This type of young people requires and needs an activity 1a1, they could not learn and persevere in the commitment if not in the presence of a figure totally dedicated to them, which respects the moments of pause and fatigue me that at the same time leads them to perform a specific and differentiated motor activity.

We move in this way, because we believe that it is the only possible way if we want to carry out a program that produces new learning, in relation to sports and psychosocial aspects. This is our challenge that is the same every year, we are convinced that we can get significant results, which could be even better if it were possible to increase the number of hours per week devoted to sport. Of course, a large number of professionals is required to carry out this activity. For this reason, the field team is composed only of college graduates.

With boys and girls over the age of 13 we have built groups in which it is possible to play soccer and begin, after this long period of pandemic, tournaments and games. With them the training is very similar to that conducted with typically developing kids and this year we will see how far we can go as an AS Roma soccer team.

A special Sunday with soccer

It takes very little to spend a morning of play, soccer, with the coaches of Roma and the Academy of Integrated Football and sports psychologists. Many children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities on three pieces of grass at the Foro Italico, Rome, as part of the Tennis and Friends event.

This is the beauty of soccer, you just need a ball and immediately you play, anywhere, even in the small spaces between tennis courts. We must not lose the simplicity that this game offers us, it takes very little to spend time in a way that is fun for everyone, from young people to families and to us who organized it.

This year we are starting our 7th year of activity and after a long period without games we will organize tournaments to let the kids experience the excitement of playing together and competing against other teams.

For information go to our web site.

10 summer camp goals for young with intellectual disability

What we learn from a summer camp for youth with intellectual disabilities (ID).

  1. 5 hours of activities alternating between soccer, motor coordination and with the ball, and expressive activities are an adequate amount of time for everyone, even the youngest (6/7 years old) and those with more serious disorders.
  2. We have estimated that a week of summer camp of 25 hours is equivalent to 2 months of bi-weekly training of two hours.
  3. 5 hours of activity carried out outdoors and in total safety represents a unique experience that almost all young people with ID do not experience. Thus, satisfaction of basic needs, such as drinking and eating, is trained properly.
  4. The management of fatigue, and therefore the alternation of moments of activity with those of recovery, is another significant factor in the empowerment of these young people, who usually carry out activities at low intensity, with little energy expenditure and in indoor environments.
  5. Young people can alternate activity phases with recovery moments, without compromising the effectiveness of sports training, since the amount of time available also allows for these phases of breaks within it.
  6. Young people develop an ability to relate to each other, fostered by the breaks and the moments of transition from one activity to the next.
  7. Soccer is a sport of group and communication among players. This necessity stimulates increased verbal interactions among youth who have a verbal skill level of even a few words.
  8. The adult who leads the activities becomes an effective reference for all of them, to respond to the needs that continually emerge during the activity, and is also a facilitator of respect for the rules of life in common in the group.
  9. The motor and sport development of soccer is thus trained with a continuity and frequency that the usual one-hour training sessions do not allow. These young people with ID receive much more feedback on their activities during summer camp and can put it into practice more frequently given the large number of hours they are involved in each day.
  10. Parents are all particularly pleased to see their children’s involvement in this wide variety of activities and to see their motor and psychosocial progress.

“Summer Together” for young with intellectual disabiliY

The “Summer Together” camp, organized by Roma Cares together with the Academy of Integrated Football, for young people with intellectual disabilities continues with young people who have greater functional limitations in terms of motor and psychosocial. They too are engaged from 8 am to 1 pm for 5 days a week. Describing their activity is more complex than for youth with a higher level of functioning. The reason for this greater difficulty in describing it stems from the fact that they do a 1-to-1 activity, a student and a coach/psychologist. Their activity is organized of a series of motor routes but that each one accomplishes in his own way, following his own rhythm and the need to rest after the activity phases. It takes a lot of patience, enthusiasm and professionalism on the part of the adults. They must work aware of the extreme difficulties of improvement.

It is not easy to have this approach but this is the purpose of our work not only during the year but also at summer camp. We have measured that one week of summer camp (25 hours) is equivalent in terms of quantity and motor and psychological experience to two months of training. Very few scientific investigations have studied this phenomenon, demonstrating the little interest that organized sports activity has aroused so far in the scientific community.

We hope to continue this activity of summer camps in the coming years to be able to document in a continuous way the improvements of these young people and the didactic methodology useful to produce these results.

“Summer Together”: soccer for young with intellectual disability

“Summer Together” camp has begun, promoted by Roma Cares in collaboration with Accademia Calcio Integrato with youth ages 6-18 with intellectual disabilities playing soccer. Second day, the boys and girls arrive at the camp and start playing in the big pitch. Peaceful environment, they shoot on goal. This happens while waiting for the other teammates to arrive. Then we listen and sing the Italian anthem all together.

Training begins with coordination exercises with the ball, divided into two groups of 5. There are 3 AS Roma coaches following them, providing technical instructions and encouraging them to keep up the pace of the exercise.

Different sized shots on goal on stations, rotating every few minutes.

These are young people who have been training with us for a long time, some for 6 years others for 4. The summer camp is 5 hours on 5 days per week (the global group in three weeks will be of 90 young). The group of 10 I’m talking about is made up of young people with intellectual disabilities with good motor functioning even though some have difficulty running, some would mostly walk and run a few steps, and some are very fast. Some need more than others to alternate minutes of activity with a break (in any case it is very hot here in Rome).

For the latter, having many hours available to train is important, since in this way they have the opportunity to train for an overall long period of time, while during the weekly training sessions, stopping for 20 minutes means losing almost 40% of the training time, which is 50 minutes.

Of course there are also moments of tension, some boys show restlessness, someone else argues with a teammate, someone responds impulsively or takes offense because they do not pass the ball, others get tired and are prone to isolation.

These difficulties can be resolved with the patience of the coaches who understand these problems, but above all thanks to the fact that the game continues and these episodes do not disturb those who play. In this sense the continuity of the activity is a stimulus to those who leave to return to play. This is because, in any case, the objective is to maintain a positive and pleasant atmosphere that, in the end, outweighs any difficulties encountered.

With an image we can say that the river flows, when a boy/girl lives a more critical moment, its flowing helps to solve individual problems because the collective continues the activity, so everything flows and then you get to the sea where everything ends.

Coaches carry out their leadership role with understanding and closeness but in a firm manner. This attitude of theirs is the essential cornerstone for which everything flows, despite the fact that we are coaching young people with intellectual disabilities.

A lot of work is done to bring value to coaching. This is the reason why listening to and singing together the Italian anthem and before the final match the Champions League anthem are moments that precede significant moments of the training. It’s obvious, finally, that wearing the AS Roma uniform is another unifying factor, a way for these young athletes to feel proud and part of something that in their perception is immense.
In the next few days I will tell you about the experience of other young people who participate at “Estate Insieme”.

World Autism Awareness Day

genitori « Alberto Cei

Football and autism

There are few research studies conducted on the topic of soccer and autism, below are the studies on youth with ASD presented in an article by Vetri and Roccella (2020). On the Playing Field to Improve: A Goal for Autism. Medicine, 56.

Hayward et al. (2016) investigated a group of 18 children with ASD (7-11 years old) who participated in a 16-week community-based program The authors assessed physical activity outcomes such as pre- and post-football skills, participant attendance, and parent satisfaction. The purpose of their soccer program was to teach children with ASD the basic soccer skills while giving them the opportunity to have fun and interact with peers. The results supported the feasibility and effectiveness of a soccer program because they showed improvements in shot accuracy and agility on the 15-yard line. Parents’ overall satisfaction was very good and perceived their children as more active and enjoying playing soccer

Calcio Insieme is a project promoted by the Fondazione Roma Cares (a non-profit organization linked to AS ROMA and the sport association Accademia di Calcio Integrato). Cei et al. (2017) recruited 30 children with ASD (6-13 years old) to study the effects of a soccer-based training program. All children underwent initial and final quantitative motor assessment. The authors used a qualitative approach to assess psychosocial skills at the beginning and end of the training period through interviews with their parents and teachers of the youth. Results showed that parents and teachers perceived most children with ASD to have improved psychosocial and communication skills. Motor skills assessed quantitatively showed significant improvement in the following six out of ten tests: walking between cones, running between cones, rolling on the mat, jumping high (three 20/30 cm obstacles), grasping (five throws from 1 to 5 m away from the instructor), and staying balanced on the jellyfish.

A third research was conducted by Chambers and Radley (2020) who used a different approach. preferring a peer-mediated intervention to promote skill acquisition in children with ASD. The authors selected three male students with autism (ages 11 and 12, respectively) and instructed a 14-year-old peer interventionist common to all three participants. The soccer skills assessed were throwing, kicking, and defense. During the training sessions, the peer explained and demonstrated soccer skills to the children with ASD and provided technical instruction after practice to correct errors. At the end of the study, the three participants rapidly acquired the coached soccer skills and accuracy in executing the skills persisted over time, in the absence of any peer intervention.

10 reasons to play football for young with autism

10 ragioni per cui i giovani con disabilità intellettiva traggono beneficio dal gioco del calcio
  1. Il calcio è lo sport più amato dai giovani di tutto il mondo: si può giocare ovunque, al chiuso e all’aperto, ogni luogo si può trasformare in un campo di calcio e chiunque indipendentemente dalle sue capacità può giocare una partita.
  2. Il pallone è un strumento sportivo senza rivali: lo puoi calciare con i piedi o con le mani e colpire con ogni parte del corpo; tutti possono passare la palla, tirare in porta o provare a parare un tiro. Dai un pallone a un gruppo di bambini e non si stancheranno di rincorrerlo.
  3. Il calcio favorisce l’inclusione di tutti, ogni ragazzo o ragazza può correre dietro una palla, toglierla a un altro, tirare, passare e parare.
  4. I giovani con disabilità intellettiva sono di solito esclusi dal gioco del calcio, perché sono rare le opportunità che gli vengono offerte.
  5. Giocare a calcio e con il pallone gli permette di stare con i compagni di classe, con i loro amici e di conoscerne di nuovi.
  6. Calcio è stare all’aria aperta, vedere le stagioni anche se si vive in città e imparare a muoversi con gli altri quando fa freddo o caldo o quando tira vento.
  7. Calcio è partecipare a un allenamento centrato su apprendimenti nuovi che determinano il miglioramento delle abilità motorie di base, coordinazione, abilità tecnico- tattiche, abilità di comunicazione, collaborazione e cognitivo-affettive.
  8. Calcio è stare in gruppo insieme durante l’allenamento, condividere gli stessi spazi, esercitandosi da soli ma anche con un altro compagno o in piccoli gruppi.
  9. Calcio è vestire la divisa della propria squadra, la Roma, andare allo stadio insieme a tutto il gruppo a vedere le partite e andare a scuola con questa uniforme, essere riconosciuti dai compagni come allievi della scuola calcio della Roma.
  10. Calcio è integrazione, allenandosi e partecipando a tornei e giocando partite di calcio integrato 5vs5 composte da tre giovani con disabilità intellettiva e due giovani della AS Roma.