Running. Tumbling. Jumping. Bouncing. When it comes to engaging energetic kids indoors, it’s hard to beat a gymnastics class.
Along with being a great way to get moving, learning gymnastics can help improve eye-hand coordination, motor skills and self-confidence, along with providing a unique way to interact socially with other kids. These skills can be particularly helpful for kids with a variety of special needs, many of whom often do better with individual sports that allow flexibility and personal expression.
“My son takes semi-private gymnastics lessons with his brother and a friend, and it’s excellent sensory input, plus he has an absolute blast,” says Kathy Shreve, of Carmel, whose 8-year-old son, Andrew, has autism. “Gymnastics is the only activity that he asks to do again, year after year.”
Several Indianapolis-area gymnastics facilities offer classes and teams designed to include kids with special needs, and most offer private instruction that can be tailored to your child’s level.
Here are some gyms recommended most often by local special needs parents:
9625 E. 150th St., Noblesville
Several members of the A Plus staff have experience working with children with special needs. Group classes or individual instruction can be scheduled for weekdays when the gym is quieter. Call for more information.
9032 Technology Drive, Fishers
DeVeau’s Dynamos is a one-hour adapted gymnastics class intended to introduce children ages 6 to 10 to the basics of gymnastics. Coach Chelsea Mason says a full class would be four children, and that there are currently two children enrolled. “We have a lot of fun!,” she says. “If this is successful, we’ll start developing a waiting list, and we could expand our class offerings.” Contact Chelsea at the number above or at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.
460 Rawles Ave., Indianapolis
Along with welcoming all children in group classes and private instruction, Gymnastics Unlimited also offers a competitive cheerleading program for kids with special needs. The athletes learn a small routine at weekly practices and then compete at the exhibition level about eight times a year. Call for more information.
8070 Georgetown Road, Indianapolis
Classes for children ages 3 to 7 with special needs are offered Thursdays from 5-5:45 pm. The facility also hosts practices for the Special Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics Team on Thursdays from 6-7:15 p.m. and on the first and third Saturdays of each month from 11:30 am -12:30 pm. Children ages 6 to 8 are eligible for the show team, and those 8 and older can compete in three to four matches a year. Call for more information.
14888 Herriman Blvd., Noblesville
Designed especially for children ages 3 to 18 with physical and cognitive challenges, the Power Kids program focuses on growing confidence and self-esteem through gymnastics. Group classes and private instruction available. Call to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation with Power Kids founder Brian Jones.
880 Andico Road, Plainfield
Classes for children with special needs are offered Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. Scholarships are available. Call for more information.
Don’t have one of these facilities near you? Ask your local gymnastics center if they can accommodate your child. Many gyms offer private or semi-private instruction that can be tailored for his or her needs.