Camp provides opportunities for children with autism.

By Costa Maragos Posted: June 8, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Showing off adaptive movement equipment for children with autism. (l to r)  Kyla Collins (Research Assist., KIN), Dr. Kerri Staples and Sara Lautenslager (Program Co-ordinator, KIN)
Showing off adaptive movement equipment for children with autism. (l to r) Kyla Collins (Research Assist., KIN), Dr. Kerri Staples and Sara Lautenslager (Program Co-ordinator, KIN) (Photo courtesy of Trevor Hopkin - U of R Photography).

Children with autism spectrum disorder have limited options when it comes to choosing a summer camp. For many sports camp is not an option.

The U of R is stepping in to help by offering “Sports For All" -  a physical activity program/intervention for children aged 7 to 10. 

“It’s an opportunity for children with autism to learn and gain confidence performing movement skills, while participating in a fun, summer sports camp experience” says Dr. Kerri Staples, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

“For many kids with autism, there is not a lot of choice for summer programming. We hope to increase what is available for families.”

The two-week sessions begin June 29 and continue to August 21. To participate in the formal intervention, children with ASD are required to register in a minimum of 2 sessions.

The camp features a low child to instructor ratio of 3:1. Assessments will be completed after each session to track progress and evaluate the program effectiveness. There will be ongoing assessment and levels of physical activity will also be monitored during the program.

“We see little improvements every day and those little improvements add up,” says Dr. Staples. “The ability to measure progress is very motivating. I’ve seen parents shed tears when they’ve seen their child catch a ball because ten weeks earlier they were scared of the ball. It’s pretty incredible.”

Lisa Dietrich enrolled her 9 year old son in the weekly program last year.

"We have noticed so many improvements in his co-ordination and desire to participate in sporting activities like tossing a football around or skating, which he never could do before is amazing. More than that is his increase in self confidence and desire to try new things,” says Dietrich. 

Dr. Staples has assembled an impressive array of sports equipment that facilitate the acquisition of movement skills for children with autism.  

-    A slightly larger and lighter volleyball will allow a child to serve.
-    A basketball that reminds a child where to position their hands allows them to practice shooting with more independence.
-    Activity cubes can be rolled to determine how many times a certain activity should be performed.

The camp is run by the U of R’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies with some funding support from Autism Speaks.

“Autism Speaks Canada applauds the work of the University of Regina to build inclusive sports programming,” says Ester Rhee, National Program Director for Autism Speaks.
“This program addresses services gaps for families in the community and in addition to building fundamental skills, fosters well being to increase physical and mental health and improve quality of life.”

Says Dr. Staples, “for the kids the best part of it is them being in a program surrounded by peers where they don’t stand out. They’re here and they fit in and everybody has fun together”

Parents interested in learning more about the program can contact Dr. Kerri Staples at or (306) 585-4370.  Registration can be done online, by phone (306) 585-4371 or in person.

Camp:      Sports For All
Location:  University of Regina
Sessions:  June 29, July 13, July 27 & Aug 10
Contact:    306-585-4371