Paddlers on the Autism Spectrum may need additional support or changes to coaching style to help them develop to their full potential. The following guidance is based on a poster circulated by the Department of Health.

  1. Explain at every stage what you are about to do, what will happen next and why. Try to ensure you present a complete picture - when you start explain the entire activity through to getting off the water, changing and leaving.
  2. Give the person time to understand the information you have given. Wait a few seconds for a response.
  3. People on the autistic spectrum might take what you say literally, so avoid words with a double meaning and humour that could be misunderstood.
  4. Questions and instructions should be clear and direct. Use pictures if necessary.
  5. Maintain a routine: do not depart from the plan that you have explained at the beginning of the session.
  6. Ask the person or if more appropriate their parent or carer or advocate what support they might need.
  7. Social difficulties may include lack of eye contact, unusual body language, talking at inappropriate moments or about inappropriate topics.
  8. Repetitive behaviour may be a coping mechanism and should be respected.
  9. The environment is important so try to keep the immediate environment as calm as possible.
  10. Always consider the person's behaviour in terms of his or her autism, even if it becomes challenging.