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Home » Groups » Coaching Youth (age 13-18) » Forum » Coaching Youth (age 13-18), General Forum » COACHING AUTISTIC CHILDREN & YOUNG ADULTS
Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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Posted in: Coaching Youth (age 13-18), General Forum


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  • stevotech

    I have been a squash coach for a long time and have encountered challenging youngsters in limited numbers out of the many hundreds, but my latest 'client' is a 17 year old who I am working with on a one-to-one basis, due to lack of social interaction and massive lack of confidence; I believe he has PDA/on the autistic spectrum (awaiting consultation and assessment). What are the best pointers to help me help him?

  • Blake

    Hi Ian, you may be interested in the blog I wrote with Active for Autism, the National Autistic Society’s training and consultancy programme, on including people with autism in your coaching sessions. There is a lot of expert advice in there and some good feedback from members below too. Here is the link...


  • Hello Ian, 

    I have coached a few children / teens who have been on the spectrum and although their needs differed considerably the main constant between them all was the preference for routine. So I would always warm them up in the same way, with the same skills and then progress on to the harder elements.

    I also used to praise regularly to help confidence levels and progressed skills by increasing the difficulty slowly. I found asking their opinion, eg. "we are going to do X today, so would you like to start with Y or Z first before we do that?" meant that they knew what was coming but without the lack of control. 

    Hope that helps somewhat :)

  • stevotech

    Thank you, Dannielle. Yes, I always start with a decent warm-up, that progresses with increments at each session, e.g. lunges 20, 30 then 40, etc. Also, I discuss what aspects to cover at each session. Biggest challenge is literal interpretation and not explaining why I am doing a feeding routine, e.g. “I am going to hit the ball to the same place” is translated as a short cut for not moving properly! Tremendous learning for me, but I’ve got time and patience!

  • stevotech

    A further update which I would like to share with you; this is the strategy I have developed:

    Number One – I listen more and observe more closely body language

    Number Two – Improvisation and preparedness to change a coaching method is key

    Number Three – More demonstrations, less verbal instructions (Carl prefers to watch movie clips)

    Number Four – Use colours and/or shapes, instead of numbers

    Number Five – Increase repetitive routines, but maintain fun elements

    Number Six – Targets for personal achievement either are not applied or minimalized

    Number Seven – Never argue or challenge a viewpoint or resistance; invite suggestions

    Number Eight – Always praise, NEVER say, “Don’t do it that way

    Naturally, still work-in-progress and I would appreciate any feedback or additions.

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