What is EPIC?
EPIC is a program at Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton designed to provide both segregated and inclusive opportunities for children and youth to engage in physical activity and recreation. EPIC is inclusive of a variety of activities that are designed to meet the child where they are at in terms of their ability to engage, thus providing children and youth diagnosed with autism with increased opportunity to participate in physical activity and peer interaction according to their abilities and preferences. Rules, structure, noise, social demands, physical requirements, interest and other factors can impact on a child’s ability to participate.
Why is there a need for EPIC?
- Research on the physical activity patterns of children with autism indicates:
- Children diagnosed with autism have lower levels of involvement in community recreational activities compared to typically developing peers.
- One of the largest barriers to involvement of children on the autism spectrum is an inability of instructors, coaches, and leaders to successfully accommodate the varying ability levels of these children.
- Negative perceptions of children with autism often result in fewer quality opportunities for physical activity participation.
- Physical activity is a critical element for the overall healthy development of children diagnosed with autism and has the potential to positively impact physical well-being, mental health and social functioning, resulting in an improved quality of life.
What are the overall goals/objectives of EPIC?
- Provide increased opportunity for physical activity and social engagement to children and youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Facilitate the development of individualized physical literacy in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
- Teach community members such as coaches, leaders, instructors, etc strategies that support the inclusion of children and youth with autism in recreation programs in the community.
- To create inclusive recreational and social environments for children/youth with autism to access independently within their community.
What types of services are included within EPIC?
EPIC includes several services including summer camps (both in-house and within the community), gymnasium sessions devoted to exploratory physical activity and active discovery, and gymnastics sessions within the community. New opportunities are being sought regularly.
Who is involved with EPIC? Who can contribute to EPIC?
Currently, Children’s Autism of Edmonton staff and community partners contribute to EPIC’s programs. Community organizations are being approached to continually expand opportunities and develop a partnership with Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton.
Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton recognizes the Goodlife Kids Foundation and JumpStart Sport Relief Fund as a source of funding for its EPIC programs