Tag Archive for 'disabilità'

Role of summer camp for young with intellectual disability

Summer camps for young people with intellectual disabilities always require responsibility, organization, and commitment from the organizers. As Integrated Soccer Academy, we concluded these two weeks of activities with satisfaction from the participants, their families, and ourselves. The young people participated in this 10-day, 50-hour experience in an environment that was not exactly favorable, given the high temperatures, playing soccer, but also padel and basketball, along with other seated games.

During this summer camp, the young people improve their ability to self-regulate; they drink and recover even outside the scheduled breaks. This means they are in touch with their physical sensations, and by listening to them, they choose when to stop rather than continue playing. This is one of the principles of our sports work with them: to develop physical and mental endurance. Therefore, playing outdoors, moving continuously during training, running, and improving motor coordination, kicking the ball, but also stopping and resting.

At the same time, the summer camp is an opportunity to further develop social relationships with peers and teachers. Experiencing a wide range of sports activities (motor tracks, basketball, and soccer) that involve the mind and body helping to build a sense of belonging to the group. The ample time available allows them to live through and resolve, with the help of sport instructors and psychologists, those small moments of tension that arise in any group during such intense and long-lasting activities.

Like the weekly training during the year, the summer camp also promotes the emotional stability and thinking of these young people, who interact continuously with adults and their friends during these hours. It is a continuous flow of physical sensations, moods, and thoughts that helps them stay focused on the games they play and keep the interaction with others alive.

In conclusion, summer camps are very demanding for them and for us too, but they represent an explosion of interactions otherwise impossible with this frequency and intensity.

Sumer camps and autism

Summer is a time for summer camps for kids, and the first week is about to end for those at the Integrated Football Academy. We have a great group of 20 boys with intellectual disabilities, aged 10 to 20 years old. A well-organized summer camp led by experienced instructors and psychologists, supported by a doctor and a speech therapist, represents an intense and emotionally challenging experience.

It’s not just the heat that could affect their physical and mental state, making them experience a level of fatigue they have never felt before. Normally, the boys play football and basketball from 8:30 AM to 12:15 PM, after which they play board games until the camp concludes at 1:00 PM. During this time, there are numerous breaks for drinking, resting, and eating. We often wonder how it is possible that young people with autism, who do not train for more than 2-3 hours a week during the year, manage to train for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.

This result says a lot about how developed their physical and mental resilience is. Their good mood is proof that this commitment is appropriate for them. Playing contact team sports like football and basketball, they could commit fouls, react aggressively towards others, or sit on the bench due to excessive fatigue. However, these situations do not arise; the boys collaborate. It is true that occasionally someone gets angry over a wrong pass or a mistake, but they have been taught to avoid these behaviors and to apologize those rare times they are not correct.

These boys train with us all year round, and this helps guide them in this new experience. New, because in two weeks they train for 50 hours, which corresponds to the total hours spent during the sports year from October to June.

Boys with autism do not learn on their own; the team that guides them works with them all year and is primarily responsible for their way of experiencing the summer camp and the sporting and psychological learning they show on the field. Knowing them means understanding what they can do and what situations might cause them to have a crisis; this is, in a nutshell, the main role played by the team. This is one of the secrets why now, at the summer camp, they manage to be active for such a long and entirely new period for them.

Finally, a 20-year-old boy, with us for 9 years, is doing an internship during these two weeks to become an assistant instructor, a role that in the future could allow him to turn this current commitment into a job.

Now we are moving forward to organize the next sports season, the 10th year of our activity in the field of intellectual disability.

9th year of the “Football Together” – Project for young with intellectual disability

The 9th year of the “Football Together” project has begun. It is a complex project aimed at young people with intellectual disabilities, with special reference to young people with autism. It is a long time in which many of the participants have gone from being teenagers with autism to young adults.

It is a project of AS Roma in collaboration with the Accademia di Calcio Integrato, which aims to promote an innovative methodology of soccer training among these young people, starting from the age of school soccer 6-12 years old to more game-centered activity in the later ages from 13 years old and beyond.

474 youth have been involved in last 8 years - Each year the number of youth with intellectual disabilities has increased. Initially the project covered the soccer school age groups, going forward it was enriched by the upper age group we called “Cub Scouts Grow Up,” which now includes youth who have reached the age of majority.

80 young people with autism are involved in the 2022-23 activity - Currently the young people are divided into three groups according to age and their motor and psychological skills. The group composed of youth with a severe level of autism are each followed by a single professional (instructor or psychologist). The group of younger youth (6-9) years old and with an average level of functioning carry out group activities and ball games. The group of adolescents over14 of medium to high functioning follow a soccer training program and play soccer games5 among themselves, in an integrated way with players from the AS Roma soccer school and participate in events organized by other clubs or FIGC.

30 were the young people with autism in the first year - Calcio Insieme began in September 2015 with the collaboration of some schools in Rome that promoted among the families of pupils with intellectual disabilities the knowledge of this initiative, organized informational meetings with the staff of Calcio Insieme to begin to build a Community on the territory in which school, family, sports promoters, and staff could feel part of a common project at the center of which are children with intellectual disabilities and in particular those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

28 were the hours of staff training- In 2015 the staff participated before the start of the activity in a 28-hour Training Course by “Football Together” that had experts in the various fields of intellectual disability as lecturers and speeches by parents, school workers, and sports clubs. At the beginning of each year the staff is involved in a refresher training.

24 are the professionals - The staff consists of 10 soccer instructors, 6 sports psychologists, 1logopedist, 3 doctors, 1 school and parent relations manager,1 technical area manager, 1 scientific manager and 1 institutional relations manager.

20 are the schools involved - The young people with intellectual disabilities involved come from 20 schools in the Roman area. A collaborative relationship has been established with each of these schools through the principal, support teacher and families.

9 are the videos to talk about Football Together - 6 short educational videos each lasting a few minutes were made, funded by the presidency of the Lazio Region. 3 more videos were made to present the activity carried out and the results achieved.

8 scientific contributions published - 4 are the scientific articles published in international journals. A special issue of the journal “Movement” and an article in the journal of the School of Sport were published. During Covid the activity carried out online with these young people produced a technical book of exercises to be done at home. The activity was presented at the national convention of the Italian Dyspraxia Society, at a seminar held at the Institute of Neuropsychiatry at Sapienza University in Rome, and is an integral part of the Level IV Course for Coaches organized by the School of Sport in Rome.

3 the summer camps - Summer camps were implemented to: respond to the needs expressed by families with children with intellectual disabilities, offering weeks of summer camp, free of charge; create a model of summer camp and typical day, based on movement, declined in the different playful-motor and sports expressions; constitute a concrete model of integration thanks to the presence at the summer camp also of siblings or classmates, their peers with typical development. Each week of camp was spread over 5 days for a total of 25 hours per week.

3 young people served as assistant instructors - These young people are 18 years old and have been with us for a number of years, their passion for soccer is well-rounded. They served as assistant instructors during summer camp weeks. In the future they could put their acquired sports skills to use and make sports their career field, but their intellectual disability is an obstacle. The goal is to break down this obstacle and build an educational pathway to make soccer accessible to these girls and boys also as a possible career field.

2 are the areas investigated: motor-sportive and psycho-social - Different motor-sportive tests were proposed and experimented with before arriving at the final one that uses a 5-level behavioral description of basic motor skills, repeated twice a year, at the beginning of the educational journey and at its end. During interviews with parents, they were asked to fill out behavior fact sheets at the beginning and end of the year to assess their perception of improvement on the psychological and social areas investigated. Similar psychological assessments were conducted by the psychologists of these young people, also examining in the more serious youth the duration of their active engagement during each training session.

Young with intellectual disability: the experts’ competences

A new sports season also begins for young people with intellectual disabilities. It is good to remember that too few still have access to sports programs. In relation to having them participate in team games there is still a conception that individual sports are preferable to them.

Personally I am not convinced of this idea. Since for 7 years as the Academy of Integrated Football we have been carrying out a project with AS Roma precisely aimed at teaching soccer and we have documented in several scientific papers the positive effects of this project. It seems to me, however, that a gap present in many sports programs for young people with intellectual disabilities is the reduced specific professional competences of those who work with these young people and that they may lack the skills necessary to plan and implement effective programs. Therefore, I want to report what we at the Academy of Integrated Soccer believe should be the profile of the professional involved in these activities.

  1. Specific scientific and professional skills: degree in exercise science, sports psychology, or speech therapy.
  2. Be convinced that sport is a fundamental activity for improving the psychological and social condition of children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities.
  3. Be predisposed to interaction on the field with young people, building on one’s own sports skills and/or experience gained through a sports career or movement studies.
  4. Accepting the frustrations derived from the slow improvements of these young people, always showing belief in the possibilities that they can still improve while respecting their time and problems.
  5. Being enthusiastic and dynamic are two essential psychological characteristics to be accepted by these young people and to convey the conviction that one can learn despite their limitations.
  6. To love sports since the activity in the field is quite demanding and tiring, so certainly those who play sports have more opportunities to fit in this area where the activity is for everyone organized with specific educational units for the young people to follow.
  7. Be patient and tenacious to have the willingness to repeat and then again repeat the teachings as many times as necessary without interacting in a negative, angry or disappointed way with young people, who are more than others sensitive to the emotional changes of their teachers.


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

How to increase sport among people with disabilities

10 target points to increase sport participations among people with disabilities. 

Catherine Carty, Hidde P. van der Ploeg, Stuart J.H. Biddle, Fiona Bull, Juana Willumsen, Lindsay Lee, Kaloyan Kamenov, and Karen Milton (2021). The First Global Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for People Living With Disability.  Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 18, 86-93

10 target areas Actions needed
1. Awareness Tailored awareness campaigns are needed to draw attention to the inequity experienced by people living with disability in relation to physical activity. Emphasis on disability as an interaction between a health condition, personal characteristics, and the environment will help reduce exclusion and point to the broad range of sectors and actions that are needed to cocreate inclusive physical activity solutions.
2. Communication Communication campaigns for promoting physical activity and limiting sedentary behavior need to be targeted at and accessible to people with a wide variety of impairments through a variety of formats and technologies. General communication messages need to avoid ableist language and sentiment and be universally accessible.
3. Environment Inclusive access to local amenities, facilities, and services, including green spaces, blue spaces, and networks, may require new products, technologies, environmental changes, supportive relationships, and inclusive social attitudes. Safe and connected active transport should be made accessible for people living with disability so that they can participate more independently where they live, work, play, or go to school. This will help limit sedentary behavior and increase physical activity among people living with disability.
4. Training Training and education providers need to supply inclusive practitioners across sectors that impact physical activity and sedentary behavior to meet the specific needs of people living with disability. Disability awareness training for a broad range of community stakeholders (professionals to volunteers) would build much-needed understanding and help reduce the disabling impact of the social and physical environment.
5. Partnership Facilitating inclusion in and through physical activity is a whole of society issue. Multidisciplinary partnerships from national policy to local delivery levels are needed to address barriers and facilitators to create opportunities for participation. They must involve disability service organizations and people living with disability. Dedicated disability sport inclusion staff, working with disability organizations, can support the inclusion of individuals with disability in physical activity at community levels.
6. Research Mechanisms to gather disaggregated data on participation in physical activity, sedentary behavior, and disability are essential to monitor progress in participation on all levels—local, national, and international. An increased volume and quality of research exploring barriers and enablers to physical activity and its effects, along the disability continuum and across the domains of functioning (including life activities and participation), are needed to inform effective inclusive policy solutions and public health interventions.
7. Human rights Protecting, respecting, and fulfilling human rights with and for people with disability in and though physical activity are critical, including targeted interventions for those enduring intersectional discrimination. Increased understanding of roles and responsibilities pertaining to human rights is needed and must transfer to inclusive actions, advocacy, and investments across multiple sectors.
8. Programs Community-based physical activity programs need to consider disability-specific accommodations (across fully inclusive to segregated activities) and universal design principles. Facilitating choice in programming is critical, as is the need to provide opportunities to build positive experiences, beginning early in childhood.
9. Investment Investment is needed across sectors to advance disability inclusion in and through physical activity, in line with human rights obligations. It can be tailored according to means through innovative approaches. Appropriate and effective practical measures, or “reasonable accommodations,” such as assistants, carers, and assistive technologies, should be provided to help people living with disability to be active and to limit sedentary behavior.
10. Governance Creating inclusive societies requires significant changes at governance and policy levels. Disability inclusion in public health and physical activity should be mainstreamed through policies and legal frameworks. Partnerships, finance, and all relevant organs of society should be mobilized to address disability inclusion. With broad interagency governance structures, physical activity can be a driver of inclusive action in broader society.

Intellectual disability and football
















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.

Sport and disability in Italy

The Paralympic Games highlighted the value of sport as an expression of self-realization and inclusion. In 2019, Istat had produced a report on the world of disability in Italy of which we report what was highlighted in relation to sport.

For people with disabilities, in the past, there was no possibility of practicing physical-sport activities, especially at a competitive level; only in the twentieth century appeared the first sports events of an international nature. Despite the fact that the concept of Sport for All is now widely shared, involvement in sport remains very low.

  • Only 9.1% practice a sport on a regular basis. The proportion of sportsmen and women increases significantly when their limitations are less severe (reaching 20.5%). Among the population with no limitations it corresponds to 36.6%.
  • People with severe limitations who, while not practicing sports, do some physical activity, are 14.4% (less than half of the value reached by the population with no limitations, i.e., 29.1%). Among people with less severe limitations, those who are engaged in physical activities are 27.6%.
  • Out of 10 people with severe limitations, about 8 declare they are totally inactive, that is, sedentary, and do not engage in any sport or physical activity, compared with 34.1% among the population without limitations.
  • Among people with severe limitations, significant differences are seen in gender (13.7% of men play sports, but only 6.0% of women) and age (20.7% of people under 65 play sports, compared with 2.7% of the elderly).
  • Territorial distances are observed with a marked North-South gradient: 11.9% of people with serious limitations living in the North participate in sports, compared with 6.3% of those living in the South.
  • Socio-economic inequalities are also strong: among people with severe limitations who have a medium-high level of education or excellent or adequate economic resources, higher levels of involvement in physical-sporting activities are achieved.
  • Higher levels of adequate physical activity are observed among people with (moderate or severe) difficulty in sensory areas (9.5% compared with 21% of people without any limitation in this functional area), and much lower levels among people with (severe or moderate) difficulty in walking30 (3.3% compared with 21% of those not limited in this area).

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.