Climbing Mountains with Autism

Notice how many movies, songs or stories use mountains to symbolize life obstacles?

Well here is my mountain story…

Autism challenges and successes

Proud mother and son – Learning about autism.

My son James joined Chelsea Forest School at the end of October. James was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and we have had him in intervention therapy since he was 2 years old.

After a lot of encouragement from doctors and therapists, we felt James was ready for school or daycare.  I was terrified and unsure he could handle such a transition… until I discovered Chelsea Forest School.

A few weeks ago I was picking up James and watched him climbing the big mountain of snow with his new friends. Now, this is a HUGE moment for three reasons:

  1. Right/Left coordination
    James’ therapists and I have been brainstorming how to encourage the coordination of his right and left sides to work together. Climbing the Forest School mountain (and other outdoor, play-based learning) achieved this goal.
  2. Determination and engagement
    Watching him climb up with tremendous determination was surprising because children with autism (and particularly James) can find new activity to be challenging. As a result they often disengage. James not only tried something new, he also imitated his peers. He was inspired by their adventurous downhill choices.  It seemed joining the fun of sliding down the mountain was all the motivation required.

    Autism and Forest School

    Climbing the mountain and interacting with other children.

  3. Recognition.
    On the mountain adventures, James was looking to me to see my reaction – checking to see if I would cheer and clap. This is another social skill that has blossomed and become more predominant since starting at Forest School.

I know the mountain at Chelsea Forest School is just a pile a snow and I know there will be more challenges ahead for us. But in my mind, my boy climbed a personal mountain that day!

by Chelsea Forest School parent, Sarah.


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