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National Autistic Society: Skiing4all listed as the Autism friendly venue

The National Autistic Society (NAS) wishes to invite Skiing4all to continue to be included on ‘Holidays: autism friendly venues’, an information on holiday facilities which have been specifically designed for people with autism (…). The NAS is sending you this invitation as we believe that you are still offering facilities that are appropriate for people with autism and related disorders.

Alex Seymour, The National Autistic Society, 1 August 2013.

 

National Autistic Services Directory

Skiing4all, run by a British Psychologist and Ski Instructor, is a specialist provider of year-round skiing and activity holidays aimed exclusively at children and adults with learning disabilities. Based in the Austrian family resort of Zell am See-Kaprun, the organisation invites everyone, regardless of their cognitive ability, to enjoy skiing, sledging, snow-shoeing, swimming, horse-riding or lama-trekking. The activities are run on a one-to-one basis by trained and experienced professionals, forming part of an individually-designed programme. The siblings are welcome to join in so that the whole family can enjoy a fun holiday. With the parents’ needs in mind, all the transport, meeting points, lunch venues etc. are co-ordinated for all the family members and the guests are guided every step of the way before and during the holiday. Skiing holidays are offered from October to May while summer activity holidays include a fun ski day including in July and August.

 

Down Syndrome Centre: Ski School for Children with Down Syndrome and all sorts of Learning Disabilities

This week we heard from Nicki, mum to 13 year old James, who has Down syndrome. They were just back from a skiing holiday in Austria - where all the family had the time of their lives! Nicki was telling us about a new ski centre, Skiing 4 All, that was set up by Anna Wegner, a British Psychologist and an Austrian-qualified Ski Instructor. Anna's ski school school caters specifically for children and adults with cognitive and learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, Autism, Asperger Syndrome and ADHD. The philosophy of Anna's ski school combines her experience as a psychologist with her passion for outdoor sport activities. This unique combination has helped her create a unique program for people with special developmental, emotional and educational needs - all in a natural setting. She cites some of the therapeutic changes which benefit disabled skiers as improved communication and social skills; improved authentic expression; increased levels of self-confidence and self-esteem; sharpened concentration and increased levels of creativity. The experience of being outdoors in such beautiful forms of nature while facilating contact with different natural materials also helps deepen an understanding of ones personal needs and encourages a disire to discover new possibilities and overcome personal limits. To say nothing about the promotion of exercise, mobility and increased fitness levels! The Skiing 4 All programs also include use of a 25m swimming pool and pony / horse-riding lessons - amidst the stunning Alpine scenery - a nice treat when you get too tired to ski!
Nicki and James are already planning a return trip next year.
Doesn't it sound idyllic? I know the pictures alone have cheered me up!

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Snowheads

Hi! Can't think of a better place than Zell am See in Austria! We were there last year with our little Jamie, 6 years old, who has a mild autism. He was skiing with Anna from Skiing4all. She was so kind and Jamie absolutely adored her! She is not just an instructor but she runs it like a therapy (she is a psychologist from Cambridge). Zell am See was so beautiful, frozen lake for skating for our daughter and Kaprun glacier guarantees snow all year, even in July - though we went in November (cheap Ryanair flights from Stansted, great value hotels and absolutely no queues, no crowds- which was important for Jamie - I would recommend off-season)! We cried when we saw Jamie do his first green run, a great big smile across his face, something he rarely does. We will definitely return this year! You can read more on www.skiing4all.com (I can see it every day on Jamie's cap he's got from Anna, together with a diploma and a gold medal - he is so proud of it! Good luck and let us know how it went!

 

Hi, Just to let you know that we booked our son on a course with www.skiing4all.com at Zell am See in Austria. He thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the rest of us, and I can thoroughly recommend Anna and Skiing4All. Anna was very helpful and Pete the instructor we had very, very good with our son. We're already planning to go back next year.

 

i've been there too. it was really great, will recommend it to everyone

 

Just wanted to add to the recommendation of skiing4all, zell am see. We spent Christmas 11/12 there and had a fab time. Our 5yr old son, with autism was looked after superbly. He was skiing on his own from the top of the mountain by the end of the week. Skiing4all also looked after his very outgoing sister, who was given fantastic instruction for the week. Basically, this meant that we, the parents got to ski for 5 hrs without kids!!! In our previous holiday, we found that arranging private lessons for our son and ski school for our daughter did not give us any time in the day to ski for ourselves.

 

Hi all just back from a truly excellent week with Skiing4all in Zell am See. Anna, Peter and Michael could not have done enough for our son. From the initial meeting on the Saturday night with pictures for him and explaining what they did, everything was spot on and fully setup to his enjoyment and safety. To see him complete blue runs and get on and off chair lifts by the end of the week was superb and far exceeded our expectations and he thoroughly enjoyed every minute of his time with them. We are already talking about going back. I am usually a hard nut to crack when it comes to customer service and do not do testimonials - but these guys really do provide a great service.

 

J2ski

Looks like a great idea, and great program. So much emphasis seems to placed on the physically disabled in ski programs. My son who suffers physical dyspraxia as part of his PDD, became a good snowboarder in his teens and I'm sure that has helped him physically and spatially since. My son was able to snowboard on a weekly basis, so I wonder though, about the benefits of short, infrequent exposures to skiing.

 

What a lovely service you have! It looks just so special. I am glad that you have posted, it would be nice to recommend. You obviously have captured the hearts of the locals, judging by the support that you are receiving. Most years I get to meet with the folk from Disability Snowsport, and every year, I say I will do the training. I never do, I am ashamed.

 

It wasn't until I reached the Skiing4all objectives that I realised how big the potential is, both the individual, and for the family/carers.


Interaction in mind

I’ve just come across this; skiing4all. Run by Anna Wegner, a British Psychologist and Austrian qualified ski instructor she offers skiing programs for individuals with cognitive disabilities. These can be combined with activities such as pony riding and swimming. Looks well worth checking out. They mention using a ‘PECS on the slopes’ system which sounds intriguing.

 

Books and articles

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When snow makes wonders from Bezirks Blatter

An article from Bezirk's Blatter, a major regional newspaper: part 1 & part 2.

Win a special needs break from Where to Ski and Snowboard 2010

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Autism Speaks about skiing with autism

According to AutismSpeaks.com
Individual sporting activities such as Track, Skiing, Hiking, Golf, Cycling, or Cross-Country allow individuals with autism to participate in recreation without social interactions that might cause stress. Skiing can therefore be good for autistic children to begin participating in physical activities without feeling frustrated.

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