Recreation and play are an important part of all of our lives. It can provide much-needed downtime from the demands of day-to-day life and allow for the development of different talents and skills.
For children and adults with ASD, it is sometimes difficult to know what kind of recreation will be a good fit. On the one hand, as a parent or caregiver, you want to see your child included with other children their age in typical sports and activities like soccer, baseball, skating, etc. On the other hand, children, youth and adults with ASD often experience heightened sensitivity to the world around them and that coupled with their challenges within the social realm can make team sports very difficult.
When considering recreational opportunities for your child, think about their interests, skills, and developmental needs. Small group or one-on-one activities may be a better fit. They may enjoy learning to run, a local chess club, Lego clubs, music lessons, swimming or other similar activities.
Think about the skills your child will need to develop to participate successfully. The skills, like catching and throwing a ball, may need to be broken down and more time spent mastering them than for a neurotypical child. They also may take longer to master the skills – they will get there eventually, but it may not be at the same pace as their friends. Patience and understanding is a must among all who are working and playing with your child as they progress in their learning.
Think about whether you would like you child included in a typical program with their peers and/or a program developed specifically for their needs. What about a combination of the two?
There are many recreation programs in Manitoba that offer programming to individuals with ASD and other disabilities. This website includes a searchable data base you can use to check into specific programming in your area. You can access the data base HERE and see what is available in your area, for the age range of your child. The following are some of the programs offered in Manitoba that will do accommodation, special programming, or special supports to individuals who have a disability.
Winnipeg Leisure Guide
The City of Winnipeg leisure guide programs support inclusive recreation programming for individuals with a disability. Individuals of all ages with a special need or disability are encouraged to participate in all community programs offered within the leisure guide. Programs can be modified and accommodations can be made to fit the individual’s needs to allow them to participate in the recreation program.
The leisure guide can offer a leisure attendant service. A leisure attendant provides support and assistance to a person with a disability participating a program from the leisure guide. Support may consist of physically aiding the participant in activities or adapting skills to suit the participant’s needs.
If you know your child will require extra assistance, modifications, or accommodations in a leisure guide program indicate this at the time of registration. Once registered, parents and caregivers will be contacted by the leisure guide staff to discuss the types of special services required for the child. To notify the leisure guide staff about your child’s special needs, please do so by:
- Email: Inclusiveprogramming@winnipeg.ca
- Or calling 204-986-3396
- For more information on inclusive programming, you can contact (204) 986-7760.
In addition to the mainstream programs offered, the leisure guide offers programming specifically for individuals with a disability. To view the programs currently offered to individuals with a disability, visit the following website:
Adapted Service Listing- Recreation Programs and Service Listings for Individuals with Special Needs http://www.winnipeg.ca/cms/recreation/services.stm
For information on registration and programs offered by the leisure guide, contact the following:
Calling 311 [24 hours a day/ 7 days a week]
Phone: (204) 986-1311
Autism Specific Organizations
Manitoba support organizations, including Asperger Manitoba Inc., Autism Society of Manitoba, OHEYS and many others offer recreation programming to individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Search our database by clicking HERE to learn about these organizations and the programs and services they offer.
Leisure in Fun Environments (L.I.F.E.) Program
The L.I.F.E. program offers a variety of recreation programs and services provided through the RBC Therapeutic Recreation & Wellness Program and the Rehabilitation Centre for Children. The L.I.F.E. program provides children with disabilities the opportunity to participate and engage in leisure and recreation programs. Programs are funded through the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.
For complete list of recreation programs and services offered by the L.I.F.E. Program, visit their website.
For more information, please contact:
To register or to be added to the notification list, contact Yvonne at (204) 453-9821.
Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD) – Leisure and Recreation Services
SMD offers leisure and recreation services to children and youth throughout the year. Their programs include: power wheelchair hockey, youth/young adult out-trips, music therapy and the Winnipeg symphony orchestra.
To get more information about these leisure and recreation services, please review the SMD Leisure and Recreation Services brochure http://www.smd.mb.ca/uploads/ck/files/childrens_leisure_and_recreation_services.pdf
SMD also offers summer recreation programs to individuals with a disability. Summer programs they provide are: SMD Day Camp, SMD overnight camps with a one-on-one summer access buddy, Independence for Youth, young adult social events and a program for children and youth who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
In order to be eligible for leisure and recreation services, the individual must have a service coordinator at SMD.
For more information on SMD leisure and recreation services, contact:
Toll Free: 1-866-282-8041
OHEYS Autism Programs
OHEYS (Optimal Health Early Years Sports) is a registered charity in Winnipeg that designs and delivers community-based activity programs for children and teens on the autism spectrum. OHEYS provides group activity opportunities to individuals who have autism spectrum disorder that work on social and physical skills in that setting. They also provide direct community services to families of children with autism. OHEYS uses a family friendly approach as they recognize the important role parents have in planning for their child’s success.
For more information on OHEYS, visit their website at: http://www.oheys.com
Making Waves Winnipeg is a not-for-profit program that provides affordable and accessible one-on-one swimming instruction to children with special needs, including autism spectrum disorder.
Making Waves swimming lessons are specifically targeted and adapted to those children at highest risk of drowning in society. Swimming instructors are volunteers from university that are qualified swimming instructors. Making Waves works with their community partners to properly train and educate instructors for working with special-needs children. At the beginning of each season, children and partnered up with an instructor according to their particular needs. The instructor will assess the swimming level of the child at the first lesson and identify skills they will work towards during the season. Children will work with their own private instructor for the entirety of the season.
Parents or caregivers must register their child online. No official diagnosis is required to apply to program. Program is only provided in Winnipeg, but is working to expand to Brandon.
For more information on Making Waves, visit their website at: http://www.makingwaveswinnipeg.org
I Can Pretend!
I Can Pretend! teaches children with autism how to play with peers and form relationships through drama classes. This program teaches younger children to learn imaginative play skills and older children home social skills. Different drama classes are offered to children between the ages of 5-16 yrs.
For more information on I Can Pretend!, contact:
Access 2 Entertainment
The Access 2 Entertainment program works to offer more opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in recreational activities with an attendant. Through the program, individuals with a disability can apply for the Access 2 Card that they can use at specific venue locations throughout Manitoba. The Access 2 Card allows the attendants of individuals with a disability to receive free tickets or entrance at the specific venues. The purpose of this program is to increased participation in recreation activities for individuals with a disability by reducing financial costs of the attendant that must be with them.
For more information on Access 2 Entertainment, Manitoba venues and registration, visit the following website:
Access 2 Entertainment http://www.access2card.ca/programinformation/
Gym Kyds: “Flippin for Autism”
Gym Kyds offers a recreation program called “Flippin for Autism” for all ages of individuals who have autism.
For more information on registration and sessions available, contact:
Rady Jewish Community Centre
The Rady Jewish Community Centre supports an inclusive environment and provides programming for individuals with special needs. The center offers social, cultural, recreational and creative arts recreation programs to individuals with a disability throughout the year. They also have leisure support buddies for individuals who require assistance in a program. In order to be eligible for programs, individuals’ must be a member of the Rady Jewish Community Centre.
For more information, please contact:
Special Olympics Manitoba
Special Olympics Manitoba offers sport training programs and competition to athletes with an intellectual disability from the ages of 2+ years. What’s unique about Special Olympics is that the program groups athletes in the selected sport according to their skill level. This provides individuals with the opportunity to participate, compete and win at every level. Recreation programming is offered in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba.
To get more information on Special Olympics Manitoba and the sport programs offered in your area, contact:
Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association
The Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association provides a therapeutic riding horses program for children with disabilities. The program is offered to children between 6-12 years of age. The program has two sessions, one in spring and one in fall that last for 10 weeks. Riding sessions are conducted by certified therapeutic riding instructors along with volunteer physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
For more information about the Manitoba Riding for the Disabled Association, contact:
West Wind Stables
Box 402, 53086 Road 4E
Oak Bluff, Manitoba
Norshel Centre offers recreation programs to individuals with a physical and intellectual disability, including autism spectrum disorder. The program provides individual recreation programming and continuous support within the community. In addition, Norshel will provide transportation to and from the activity site. Recreation programs include: archery, bowling, fishing, go karting, mini golf, movies, museums, sledding, swimming, water parks, yoga and zumba.
For more information on Norshel’s recreation programs, contact one of their locations:
890 Nairn Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R2L 0X8
Phone: (204) 654-6117
24-5 Scurfield Blvd
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3Y 1G3
Phone: (204) 452-9955
Don’t be afraid to ask:
There are many programs or centres that work to support inclusive environments that may not be listed on this page. If you know your child requires special services or supports in a recreation program, and you are interested in a particular program don’t hesitate to ask the program what they can provide for your child that would enable their participation.