Julien is 15 years old. Autistic, he does not speak “but understands everything”, as his mother wrote on his T-shirt. The teenager, who lives in Saint-Martin-d’Hères (Isère), has a passion, in addition to playing Mario Kart on his console, sport. “Each autistic person has a peak of skills, the little thing where he feels most comfortable, deciphers Magali Pignard, his mother. For Julien, it’s sport. It is in this area that he lags the least compared to adolescents of his age. So we exploit it to the full. “
At 5 years old, like all other children, Julien learned to ride a bicycle. He quickly started rollerblading, swimming, trampoline, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and, more recently, downhill mountain biking! During the first confinement, when it was only possible to practice physical activity a maximum of one kilometer from home, Julien discovered running. “That was where the neuroleptics”, slips Magali.
“Sport is vital for him, for us”
The mother remembers this crisis during which her son, who did not understand the confinement, began to break what was close to his hand. “To relieve the pressure”, Magali and Julien put on their shoes and run around the neighborhood. A real discovery for the teenager and a relief for the mother who, thanks to running, has managed to make confinement less painful for her son.
Julien also found new motivation. “He doesn’t necessarily run very long, but he’s improving a lot. Sport helps her to flourish. “Julien is hyperactive. Staying in front of the television is impossible for him. If he’s not busy, he goes around in circles and gets angry. Sport is vital for him, for us. I feel he is really happy when he is physically active. When he runs, he does little kid jumps and refuses one thing: that I double him! “
These sports times are also sweet moments of exchange between Julien and his parents, who share his custody. Every Saturday, Magali and her son take the train to Chambéry (Savoie). “I spotted a pass that we climb by bicycle. Always as a dancer concerning Julien! People sometimes hallucinate to see us still moving. Mother and son offer each other a nice challenge in a good mood. “The reward on arrival is a white chocolate pain! Sometimes he gets mad, so I carry him around, and it makes him laugh. “
Learn to control and surpass yourself
In fine weather, mountain biking sessions take place at the Chamrousse resort (Isère), with gondola rides, which teenagers love. Sport is also an opportunity for Julien to deal with instructions and to surpass himself. In 2020, besides running, he succeeded in a big challenge: that of successfully taking a chairlift. “With a lot of patience, determination and also the help of the people in charge of the chairlift,” recalls the mother. Julien was stepping back, wanted to leave, but we trusted him. He saw he was able to do it. “
Sports sessions are daily for Julien, who stays part-time in a specialized structure, whose mother is one of the founding families. “Sport is vital for children like Julien who are excluded from school and leisure centers,” says Magali. Only our son is lucky to have extremely athletic parents who can practice with him. Many children with disabilities cannot do physical activity. “
“It’s much better than drugs”
There is a sorely lack of structures ready to welcome autistic children. The associations are not equipped to take care of very poorly autonomous adolescents like Julien. The battle is permanent. “We can possibly call on an educator, but it takes 20 to 30 euros per hour. Magali does not however give up. His project is to create a synergy between coaches who would take care of disabled children and who would benefit from specialized training, with the aim of enabling them to learn to communicate with this audience which is both particular and extremely receptive.
“Sport makes my son happy… and his dad and I are so happy to share these moments with him,” Magali insists. Despite everything, she is aware that she will not always be there for Julien. Hence the importance of moving the lines so that autistic children can also play sports. “Because it is structuring for them, and because it is much better than drugs. “
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr