03 June 2021
Sports galore, but we're not keeping score.
Primary School students recently took part in the first autism-inclusive interschool sports carnival at Gosnells Primary School.
There was no score keeping, no points, and no trophies but everyone walked away with a certificate, a sense of school spirit and an abundance of new friends.
Years 3 to 6 students from schools in surrounding suburbs got together to try something new and participate in activities like cricket, handball and big ball soccer which were modified to make them less competitive and more fun.
Gosnells Primary School was the first WA primary school to introduce a specialist learning program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
One of the school’s student, Willow, spoke highly of the ASD inclusive interschool carnival and explained how much fun she was having.
“I get to make new friends and it's not about winning or losing and I love sport,” she said.
Gosnells Primary School principal, Craig Anderson explained the school hosted the event to recognise and celebrate students with ASD who would ordinarily be overlooked for participation in interschool events.
“The sports were chosen specifically to be adapted and modified to include all students equally,” he said.
The Autism Program Coordinator at Gosnells Primary School, Alison Wade, explained they noticed many students with the disorder weren’t participating in team sports so the school came up with the concept of an ASD inclusive interschool carnival to make everyone feel comfortable getting involved.
“Sometimes children with autism don't do that well with winning and losing but they've all embraced it and it's been amazing, I'm just absolutely thrilled for the children,” she said.
Mr Anderson said steps were taken to ensure students had a clear understanding of what the day would entail, and if they felt overwhelmed there was a chill out zone set up and ready.
“Planning was really important to make sure that the kids are well prepared. All of the students knew exactly what they were doing and there were no surprises. They had a great time,” he said.
The carnival was about bringing students together rather than competing against one another.
School staff anticipate the event will grow in popularity in years to come, and plan to host the event annually.
They are hopeful the event will inspire other WA schools to adopt the model and host their very own ASD inclusive carnivals.