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Lessons for Autistic, Dyspraxic and dyslexic child

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I am just trying to arrange lessons for my autistic, dyslexic and dyspraxic daughter. She is turning 9 and has skied for at least 1 week a year on snow (some years managed two weeks) and since she was 3yrs old and had quite a number of dry ski slope lessons.

She is reasonably high functioning on the autistic scale and we used to book her into group lessons. However the issues now come as she has progresssd technically beyond the nursery slopes but as she progresses at a much slower rate than others in the lesson and she doesn’t like following! She gets left behind all the time.

I am considering trying to book her into private morning lessons but then into groups for the afternoon (if the ski school will allow me to).

Has anybody taken this approach? What approaches have others taken in similar positions?

Many thanks

Nicky
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@NickyJ, have you thought about lessons in the UK? Snowability is run by a friend of mine and they do a great job with kids who have additional needs.
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@rob@rar, yes but I was under the understanding that was only at Hemel? Which is a 2hr drive away. Thinking we may do a trip over there but sadly can’t make that a regular thing as simply can’t fit it in amongst other activities we do with both our girls.

We used to get on quite well with private and group lessons at Snowtrax until the transition lesson to the main slope where she fell off the lift and she will not use that lift again Sad. I have tried everything to bribe / cajole / pressure her and that is a no go area.
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As Rob says, the guys at Snowbility do a great job (they are now at Tamworth too, although that obviously doesn't help you). It might be worth taking a look at the holidays page on their website https://snowbility.co.uk/snow-sports-holidays/ - links to a few groups there that might give you some options or ideas.
As well as Snowbility our autistic son has skiied each year with Skiing4All (linked on that page), although I suspect they might not be quite what you are looking for.
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@Tubaski, thanks for that.

May be able to do a Tamworth lesson easier in some ways as in-laws live near Birmingham. May be able to arrange a one off there, but again no good as a regular thing.

Will read up in skiing 4 all, the little I have read to date is it isn’t quite what we are after, but maybe it is. This Feb we are going to Radstadt and will be using the local ski school, hoping that a mixture of private and groups while there will work (based on observations of what has and hasn’t worked in the past) but keen to know others routes and what worked for them so thanks so much for your post.
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@NickyJ, Have you thought of using dry ski slopes? Your location says Hampshire. I teach at Aldershot with Aldershot Snowsports for the Disabled (ASD). Also there is SSCD (SSCD). I also teach with Snowhounds a small group at Bracknell (Snowhounds).

David
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@Cymro66, we are the wrong side of Hampshire, Snowtrax is our closest and as I said above, she will not go onto the main slope as will not use the lift due to falling off it during the transition lesson. We could try the Southampton one which is further but massively closer than Aldershot etc. However she has no issues with the short slopes we have in the UK, issues come about in longer runs which from a technical ability POV she is more than ready for.
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There's a couple of threads on here about skiing with disabled children, specifically downs syndrome if I remember correctly. Different issue I realise, but posters had given links to good ski schools in some resorts who specialise in lessons for those who need a bit more attention. If you search "disability" or similar you should find them. Good luck.
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After a lot of consideration I have booked her into private morning lessons for the first two days of our holiday but joining the group for lunch and afternoon lessons, then by day three she will do group lessons all day. The ski area we are going to is small which I believe will suit her better than a large area. In the past when she did the private lessons in Val Thorens day 3 the instructor was amazed a the difference in how fast she would let herself ski. When we took her to the snow dome her first few runs down were incredibly slow, but she gradually got faster and faster as she got used to it. Hence I am hoping that by day three she will feel comfortable to keep up with the groups.

I will update after half term as to how it worked. In case this is of any use to others.
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@NickyJ, good luck, let us know how you get on.
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FWIW. I have a Dyspraxic Son who is very uncoordinated..and took him skiing thinking it could well be a disaster.

In fact it was the opposite. He was with Neil "Woody" Woodward (now with Progression Ski) in Val D'Isere, who was gentle, patient and bomb-proof.

We found he had a natural ability, but would only turn, when told to turn....otherwise he just went straight. IIRC He would then have been about the age of your Daughter. Of all our 4 children, he probably had the most early talent....which took us somewhat by surprise.

My Son is shy and very particular about who he befriends - and Woody was a firm and trusted friend by the end of the week.
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@Old Fartbag, that sounds like Keira in April 2017, she was bombing down slopes straight lining half the time and to take her off the green in the day we had skiing with them after their lessons, I came to an agreement she needed to turn when I said which worked great. Then when we went out in Feb 2018 she suddenly found fear and didn’t want to let herself go beyond a snails pace unless on a Short nursery run. Found the same in April as well.

She started at 3 and got it into her head when she was 5 that she couldn’t skis and just kept sitting herself down. We did a series of private lessons on the dry ski slope which broke that barrier. He was really patient with her, gamiefied it and worked nicely.

We now need to get past this next barrier. In private it isn’t such an issue but can’t afford to have her in all day private’s all week, but hoping we can get her to the point she feels comfortable to keep up with the group
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NickyJ wrote:
@Old Fartbag, that sounds like Keira in April 2017, she was bombing down slopes straight lining half the time and to take her off the green in the day we had skiing with them after their lessons, I came to an agreement she needed to turn when I said which worked great. Then when we went out in Feb 2018 she suddenly found fear and didn’t want to let herself go beyond a snails pace unless on a Short nursery run. Found the same in April as well.

She started at 3 and got it into her head when she was 5 that she couldn’t skis and just kept sitting herself down. We did a series of private lessons on the dry ski slope which broke that barrier. He was really patient with her, gamiefied it and worked nicely.

We now need to get past this next barrier. In private it isn’t such an issue but can’t afford to have her in all day private’s all week, but hoping we can get her to the point she feels comfortable to keep up with the group

FWIW. It's probably not what you want to hear....but I would be of the belief, that if we had then put my Son into group lessons, it would have undone the confidence he had built up.

On the day we were leaving, we had a late transfer and Woody invited him to join his regular morning Private lesson, with a local British Girl of the same age....he said it would be company for her. This worked, as Woody knew both the kids involved...and the little Girl had a quiet temperament that didn't intimidate.....I suppose finding someone to share the lesson would be difficult.
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@Old Fartbag, we are going to have to see how she gets on.

We did do shared lessons with [b]Sparklies[\b] son which went ok. But Keira was holding back Gabriel due to her refusal to go any faster apart from the third day. We only did three days of shared private lessons.
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NickyJ wrote:
@Old Fartbag, we are going to have to see how she gets on.

We did do shared lessons with [b]Sparklies[\b] son which went ok. But Keira was holding back Gabriel due to her refusal to go any faster apart from the third day. We only did three days of shared private lessons.

Good Luck with it....it's a difficult balance to get right.
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Old Fartbag wrote:
NickyJ wrote:
@Old Fartbag, we are going to have to see how she gets on.

We did do shared lessons with [b]Sparklies[\b] son which went ok. But Keira was holding back Gabriel due to her refusal to go any faster apart from the third day. We only did three days of shared private lessons.

Good Luck with it....it's a difficult balance to get right.


Thanks - if it doesn’t work (and if they have availability which given it is half term isn’t that high) I may have to upgrade her to private’s later in the week). She is really happy (absolutely loves) going up and down the same slope, so if necessary she could just join a beginner group on the nursery slopes which may end up being with her cousins....
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Quote:

if necessary she could just join a beginner group on the nursery slopes which may end up being with her cousins....

You could do worse - if that means she has a happy, relaxed, time. And can feel competent, compared to the cousins.
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

if necessary she could just join a beginner group on the nursery slopes which may end up being with her cousins....

You could do worse - if that means she has a happy, relaxed, time. And can feel competent, compared to the cousins.


That’s my thinking. I just want her to enjoy herself and she loves skiing. Anybody who was at the Oktobertest would have seen her going up and down the slope until 9pm and still ready for more despite normally going to bed at 7:30! It just she gets concerned by long runs and snowboarders... more specifically out of control snowboards that crash into her. Sad
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@NickyJ, I don’t think she is the only person to be concerned about out of control snowboarders. They worry me. It seems to me she is being sensible if a bit cautious.

Anyway good luck and I hope you all have a great holiday
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Just to feedback for any who are interested or who are in similar situations.

Day 1 & 2 she had morning private lessons and then due to the private lesson finishing near the nursery lessons she joined them for lunch and then joined them for the afternoon session. This meant she was with both cousins for first day and one cousin for second day.

Day 3 - they were talking about making her stay on the nursery slope despite going up the mountain on first two days. They agreed to test her and agreed that there were no issues with her technique for moving on from nursery slope but were worried about her following instructions. I convinced them to give her a chance as she wouldbe with her cousin (her was being moved up off the nursery slope).

Picked her up at end of day and asked instructor how she got on. No problem - she was easy! See what happens tomorrow as they are talking about moving her cousin up another group if the have space. Hmm we will have to see what happens then.
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NickyJ wrote:
Just to feedback for any who are interested or who are in similar situations.

Day 1 & 2 she had morning private lessons and then due to the private lesson finishing near the nursery lessons she joined them for lunch and then joined them for the afternoon session. This meant she was with both cousins for first day and one cousin for second day.

Day 3 - they were talking about making her stay on the nursery slope despite going up the mountain on first two days. They agreed to test her and agreed that there were no issues with her technique for moving on from nursery slope but were worried about her following instructions. I convinced them to give her a chance as she wouldbe with her cousin (her was being moved up off the nursery slope).

Picked her up at end of day and asked instructor how she got on. No problem - she was easy! See what happens tomorrow as they are talking about moving her cousin up another group if the have space. Hmm we will have to see what happens then.

It's good to hear that things are going well atm.
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@NickyJ, reads as if she is back enjoying her skiing.
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She had come back from lessons quite happy every day so far which is brilliant
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@NickyJ, good to hear it's going well!
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Sadly her first week on snow cousins have now both been moved up a group.

Thankfully she isn’t too unhappy as she is at least still with the 4 yr old in our party.

However back to pulling my hair out in how on earth do we help her progress?

She is 9yrs old been skiing every week if not two weeks a year since 3 had quite a few dry ski slope lessons and is at a level behind first week on skis.

The plus points is she likes skiing and is coming back from lessons happy, but I am struggling to see how we are ever going to get to a point we can actually ski together Sad

I am looking in more detail at ski4all suggested above for next year.... but any more suggestions would be appreciated.
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Nobody could have done more to support her, @NickyJ. It must be very hard to think where to go next. I'm afraid I have no suggestions for how to improve her skiing - just huge admiration for what you have done already to help her enjoy it.
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@NickyJ, You have a PM.
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Quote:
They agreed to test her and agreed that there were no issues with her technique for moving on from nursery slope but were worried about her following instructions.

Quote:
I am struggling to see how we are ever going to get to a point we can actually ski together

Is the latter down to her ability or down to the "following instructions" mentioned in the first quote? Or is it actually ability to ski that is coming up short?
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You know it makes sense.
Layne wrote:
Quote:
They agreed to test her and agreed that there were no issues with her technique for moving on from nursery slope but were worried about her following instructions.

Quote:
I am struggling to see how we are ever going to get to a point we can actually ski together

Is the latter down to her ability or down to the "following instructions" mentioned in the first quote? Or is it actually ability to ski that is coming up short?


As soon as there is any steepness to the slope she resorts to exceedingly slow very short close turns.

She is worried about loosing control. Although I have spent the day behind he side slipping and an occasional turn myself behind it is painful hard work.
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@NickyJ, It is easy for me to type but I think crack on with having her enjoy it and she will develop at her own pace. I seem to remember one of my kids always snow ploughing and I was thinking the same that she'd never enjoy a day out with her Dad zooming around. However as she grew and developed more strength it all seemed to click. If she is only 9 she's got lots of growing and developing to be done yet.

Mine also side slipped slopes around a similar age, she is now 15 and skis icy blacks without any hesitation.
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@NickyJ, I was teaching a couple of autistic children last week. Slow progress to start with but definitely getting there by the end of the week. I recognise the control issue with one of the kids. In his case it took him a while to gain the control so I suppose it is understandable that he was reluctant to loosen up and let the skis run a bit quicker when he had the control. The way I addressed it was to allow him to have the control around the turn until the speed was controlled but then encouraged him to relax by different means, the most successful for him was simply by standing up a bit and this was achieved by saying something like relax, stand up and look at the mountains aren't they beautiful! or whatever you think might​ connect with your daughter, get her to do something funky with her hands like the floss or the macerana, it's an individual thing but generally trying to change her focus from fear of losing control to a fun task may help.
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@NickyJ, Too late for this year I think, but have you tried contacting BASI and asking for their advice. Many BASI Instructors in the Alps and in UK have completed the "Adaptive" Ski Instructors Course which includes teaching and support for Autistic people. They might be able to give you some contacts for practice and ideas for next season.
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Thanks all. We have manage to extract from my daughter than the two mornings private’s the instructor was hassling her and telling her off for not skiing fast enough because he was trying to get back to the meet point for the end of the lesson. So sadly the private instructor didn’t spend any time working WITH her on getting over the fear of loosing control just told her off over it which obviously isn’t going to work. This is despite long talk with the head of the ski school prior to booking about how she is and why!

We are going in April to Mayrhofen.

I am happy to pay for three whole days of private lessons - if I can just find an instructor that can work with her more on that mental level.

On my thread asking for recommendations I had two people suggest Habler but not a particular instructor. So I will phone them as well but I did that before.

Will try BASI

I have been thinking about a series of private lessons on local dry ski slope but don’t think it is really long enough for to trigger her real slow down / fear.
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lessons on a dry slope could work if you found the right instructor or club. Contacting BASI is a good idea and also maybe try snow sport england who may have some recommendations for uk based instructors/clubs etc
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@NickyJ, not an advice as such but we have just had a positive experience in Pila with private lessons with a local ski school for my younger son who is an immature 5 yr old... he is not autistic but has some speech and motor skills delays and after three holidays spent in group lessons in snow gardens with very little progress .. we booked him 5hrs of privates this past week and he is finally getting the snowplough and was able to do an easy blue slope today (which is a massive step for us towards being able to ski as a family). His instructors seemed very patient and never hurried him ( although at one point an instructor did pick him up and carried him while skiing when he got tired) And the best thing is that private lessons in Pila are so much cheaper than in other resorts we have been to.
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@NickyJ, I have been holding off replying to this, as the last thing I would want to do is hurt your feelings or do anything that made what is already a difficult situation more difficult. In short I have quite a bit of experience of kids with similar challenges and I think trying to place such a child in all day skiing instruction is always going to be challenging. Half days would almost definitely be for the best, with time in the rest of the day for practice/play/time with the family. To be frank I do not really know what the driver is of trying to arrange instruction for your child for the whole day, that is a lot to ask of any child. And I have to say skiing with my 4 is a huge part of the pleasure which you are in danger of missing out on. I wish you the very best and hope it all works out for you all.
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@zikomo, err? Unfortunately skiing with her at the moment is not a pleasure - it isn’t skiing, it is side slipping to stay behind her. This is why we are trying to help her feel comfortable going faster. That an also for herself- after the race last week, she was in floods of tears because she came last. She felt like she was “going fast”, it really upset her that she came in that position. Of course next time she won’t even get a chance to race as we are going private.

If have tried the just skiing with her for a week, and trying to help and encourage her but that didn’t work.

We have tried half day private’s but that means very little effective skiing as you have to make sure you are back for the end of lesson meet.

By skiing with her I am not skiing with my eldest as she is going of at normal pace with Daddy. If they are happy to do same run over and over they can lap us about 5 times while she comes down.

She does enjoy skiing and wants to do it, so trying to find best way of helping her in combination with spending a bit of time skiing myself and skiing with other daughter (who was quite upset at me always skiing with the youngest and never with her).

What we have gone for, for April is 3 days skiing with her, 3 days in lessons. So half and half. Hoping that the instructor she gets will find a way to reach her. I have had discussions with ski school about what we need and why and have been promised a suitable institutor.... but we were last time and the guy taking her private lesson was having a go at her for skiing to slowly as he needed to back for the end of lesson time.... er I explained to the ski school on the phone and in person that she is very slow and very controlled.
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I can only repeat earlier recommendations to contact DSUK and Snowbility to ask their advice. Even if you aren't able to use their services in the UK they have a huge amount of experience and surely could recommend specific ski schools or instructors who have had success for other children they've worked with. You are right that every ski school you contact will promise a suitable instructor but who you get on the day will vary and you rightly don't want to risk repeating the same problems you've had before. If you're booking private lessons without a specific recommendations I'd ask for details of which instructor you're getting and what their experience and qualifications are for teaching children like your daughter. It sounds like you need someone with empathy and patience above all, and unfortunately it's hard to judge those through qualifications, which is why I think personal recommendations are so important. I am an adaptive qualified instructor but don't want to offer specific advice as every child will be different, but the right experienced instructor will I think be able to help, even if it is a slow process.

When skiing with my own family I've found similar (though far less extreme than in your case) conflicts between them in the past as they always want to go at different speeds or on different terrain. I eventually settled on not trying to ski all together: I spend my mornings with one child while the other is in lessons, and vice versa in the afternoons. The means I get no time to ski by myself, but I go on family trips with that expectation, and so don't feel like I'm missing out. This might not work for you for any number of reasons, but I only mention it because it took me a few years to realise it was an option rather than them both having lessons in the morning and both skiing with me in the afternoon.

I hope you find something that works for you and your daughter.
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pam w wrote:
Nobody could have done more to support her, @NickyJ. It must be very hard to think where to go next. I'm afraid I have no suggestions for how to improve her skiing - just huge admiration for what you have done already to help her enjoy it.

+1 (what a lovely comment)
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@franga, @pam w, thanks both.

It wasn’t a complete disaster as she did enjoy herself (apart from the odd couple of aspects). With some proof- here she is with her cousin waiting for lesson to start on the third day:

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