Sudbury

Sudbury mom starts autism-friendly sports nights

After searching for a summer sports program that met her son's special needs, a Sudbury mother decided to create her own. Sara Kitlar-Pothier is the mother of a six-year-old son with autism and two years ago.

The autism-friendly sports nights are on Aug.1 at the field beside the Coniston arena

Sara Kitlar-Pothier started an autism-friendly sports night after she couldn't find a sports program that suited her sons special needs. (Submitted by Sara Kitlar-Pothier)

After searching for a summer sports program that met her son's special needs, a Sudbury mother decided to create her own.

Sara Kitlar-Pothier is the mother of a six-year-old son with autism and two years ago she enrolled him in a summer sports program, but she says it was too hard for him to handle and she knew she needed something that better fit his needs.

"With all the changes to the Ontario Autism Program, it's been very stressful for parents... and so I really wanted to do something tangible, that could make a difference now for kids with autism," said Kitlar-Pothier.

Kitlar-Pothier created an autism-friendly sports night. 

"Being active, getting out there and meeting new people, learning to socialize, those are really important things for autistic kids... so that's what I wanted to do, was create an environment for all kids with autism," she said.

The autism-friendly sports nights are free for parents and open to all age groups. Kitlar-Pothier says both children with autism and their siblings are welcome to the sports nights.

"This way the typical kids get to interact with the autistic kids and vice versa, the can learn from each other and learn social skills, it going to be a very great inclusive environment," she said.

Autism-friendly sports nights are every Thursday evening starting Aug. 1. (Submitted by Sara Kitlar-Pothier)

She says she's gotten a lot of positive support from parents in the community, with about 50 kids signed up to participate. 

And she says she has many volunteers that will be helping during each sports night.

"The kids will be breaking into groups and the kids will be learning some skills, we'll also have some autism friendly devices like sensory balls, hula-hoops, bubbles, not all children will be able to physically do it or handle a full hour, this will give them the opportunity to still come out and interact with their peers," Kitlar-Pothier.

"It's going to be a non-judgmental, inclusive environment for kids to just get out and be active."

with files from Sandy Siren

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