Dr Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest this week on ‘All Things Autism’ at Women’s Radio Station was Melanie Timbelake.
Melanie shares with Anna: ‘I am a mum to Cameron diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition and Ewan (hypermobility syndrome), I am a full-time school sports coach and a volunteer pan-disability football coach and inclusive martial arts coach. I got into disability sports because of my sons. They struggled with mainstream clubs and I wanted them never to feel that they couldn’t do anything, I wanted them to realise anything was possible it’s just the way you are taught it.
‘I started coaching sport five years ago, this journey started with Risborough Rangers JFC Pan-Disability Team. Over five years this has grown to three teams across three age groups. Most of the children in these sessions have ASD. I then went onto coach inclusive martial arts with ikkaido. I coach weekly sessions and also sessions at special needs schools.
‘I was honoured to win the Bucks and MK Community Coach 2018 and the UK Disability Coach 2018. This year I was honoured to be selected as one for the 50 people in the Lucozade Movers List 2019, a list of 50 people who are making a movement in their community to get people active.
‘Sports has so many benefits for people with ASD and I have seen this firsthand with son. It helps their mental well-being, social interaction, self confidence, it gives them somewhere to escape but also the groups I run help support the parents too, they gain support for other parents.
‘Coaching has helped me develop as a person it has helped my mental well-being and my self confidence. I would love to see more and more sports become accessible for people with ASD and for more people to experience the benefits and enjoyment it can bring. Everyone can learn, everyone can do sport but it’s about giving them the fun enjoyable experience that they can take away with them and that will hopefully encourage them to continue.
‘Have a look at what sports are available in your area go and watch a few sessions, join in if you want too by doing this you will know if it’s right for you.’
If you missed Melanie’s interview it will be repeated everyday this week at 1pm for the rest of the week at Women’s Radio Station.
Melanie is also a finalist for the Autism Hero Awards to be held at Chelsea Harbour Hotel London on 9th November.