Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Tug of war, running and swimming were among the activities that autistic children took part in during the Friendly Sport Day held last week in HCM City.
Parents, teachers and volunteers were on hand to help the children play games and follow regulations.
“The programme is fun for her and me, too. It helps my daughter in social interaction. I hope more programmes like this will be organised,” said one mother, who declined to be named.
Her six-year-old daughter won first prize in running race and jumping bag activities.
Dr Phan Thiệu Xuân Giang, lecturer at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities’ Psychology Faculty, said such social games were important for the development of autistic children.
“The children can become more confident and fearless,” Giang said.
Playing with their peers could help them control their temper tantrums and prevent them from hurting themselves, he added.
Because of their limited communication and social interaction skills, the children had problems in developing, Giang said.
Programmes like the Friendly Sport Day could change the community’s mindset about children with autism and reduce discrimination against them, he said.
Although awareness about autism had improved over the last 10 years, some parents of autistic children still refused to admit that their children had been diagnosed as autistic, Giang said.
Public awareness and recognition enabled sufficient and early intervention, he said.
Đặng Huỳnh Mai, chairwoman of Việt Nam Federation on Disabilities and former deputy minister of Education and Training, said the Friendly Sport Day helped “develop their hidden potential which can lead to success in life.”
“An environment for learning is not sufficient for them,” Mai said, adding that they must be involved in sport and entertainment activities which can reveal their “hidden gifts”.
According to New York’s Health Central Online, researchers at the University of California who reviewed 18 studies related to exercise and children with autism found that regular exercise helped to reduce aggression and repetitive behaviour such as rocking.
Exercise improved their academic performance, physical co-ordination and motor skills.
Phạm Thị Kim Tâm, deputy chairwoman of the Việt Nam Autism Network, said the community should provide more study and entertainment activities as well as jobs to people with autism so they could live independently. According to Tâm, many of them have financial difficulties, which have also been barriers for intervention. --VNS