Spruce Point, Sugarloaf Bring Benefits of Snow Sports to People with Autism

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Video interview with the head of the ski school at Sugarloaf. Spruce Point will provide autism specialists to help Sugarloaf instructors better understand the person with autism.

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Few sports stimulate the body’s motor system and provide much-needed sensory input the way skiing or snowboarding do.

Watch the video - Like many Mainers, individuals with autism share a desire to hit the slopes. Unfortunately, balance and motion impairments, joint problems, and difficulty starting and stopping actions can make it difficult for them to participate—and few ski instructors possess the knowledge or skills required to work with this group of students.

Now, Spruce Point, a Spurwink program that specializes in services for those with autism and other developmental disabilities, has teamed with Sugarloaf to make it possible for people with autism to participate in the fun while gaining the significant therapeutic benefits that can accompany skiing, snowboarding, and other snow sports.

“Few sports stimulate the body’s motor system and provide much-needed sensory input the way skiing or snowboarding do,” says Sue Murphy, senior program director at Spruce Point. “The question was how to bring students and instructors together, so children and adults with autism could participate in snow sports lessons.”

Through collaboration with Sugarloaf, Spruce Point is providing autism specialists to help Sugarloaf instructors better understand the person with autism.

“Working together will expand our instructors’ knowledge base and give them the skills required to teach a broader mix of students,” said Tom Butler, who heads the ski school at Sugarloaf. “At the same time, our students with autism will be able to participate as part of a group, learn the skills to ski or snowboard, and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of these great outdoor sports.”

Spruce Point specialists are on the slopes each Saturday and Sunday, from the beginning of January through the end of March.

The specialists, who remain with the individuals with autism through the entire lesson, provide Sugarloaf instructors with insights into how people with autism communicate, what their sensory sensitivity is like, and how they relate to others.

Spruce Point specialists are available to assist in the Mountain Adventure program (children 7-14) and in private lessons. The Spruce Point fee is $25 per hour, plus the cost of the lesson, discounted 20%.

For more information about Spruce Point at Sugarloaf, call: 866-348-1271.

About Spruce Point
Spruce Point is a program that specializes in a variety of services for children and adults on the autism spectrum.

About Spurwink
Spurwink is a nationally accredited nonprofit organization with a 50-year history. We provide a broad range of mental health, educational and residential services for children, adolescents, adults and families. Spurwink offers specialized programs throughout Maine and New England that are grounded in research, outcomes and evidence-based best practices. For more information, visit http://www.spurwink.org, or call us at 207-871-1200.

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John Farrell
Spurwink Services
207-871-1211 2187
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