“And thou she be but little, she is fierce!”- Shakespeare
I couldn’t find a better summary for this incredibly lady. The pocket rocket, blond bombshell is forging the new way in which ASD children can stay healthy, get involved and learn new skills in a safe environment. And take it from this parent……it works!
I’ve known Kristy for many years. Well known of Kristy. We studied the same course at University except she was in her third year when I began. It wasn’t until our head lecturer mentioned to me after a show I was doing that Kristy had begun this new circus endeavours with ASD children. It was as if the universes aligned and the angels sung (yep it was an epic moment).
We had only had our big ‘A’ diagnosis that month so divine intervention if you want to call it that, happened again. Given both my background and my husbands…( Oh that’s right…on top of his work he also dabbled in Theatre and a mega sports head) we simply jumped at the opportunity. I believe my words were….”I’m fucking calling her in the morning. You got to be kidding me. That’s fucking awesome”. (Yeah I told you I am a potty mouth).
You are told a lot about poor core muscle strength typically found in ASD children and this was one of the things flagged with B man. I really didn’t want to have that as an issue and definitely wasn’t going to use that as the excuse for him not to be able to do things as he got older. I had heard it thrown around a bit before and personally I just didn’t really get it. The “Oh he has poor core muscles so he doesn’t do sports.” WTF?? Given as well we are a fairly active family it just wasn’t going to cut the mustard with us. AND if you see any circus performer up close….you can basically crack a nut off any part of their body. The strength they have is staggering. If core muscle strength is going to be attained then circus will tick all the right boxes.
So we enrolled our little man and the leaps and bounds he made were insane. It wasn’t just strength that he attained. He learnt to wait for turns with minimal meltdown, interact with others, eye contact increased dramatically, coordination, focus and he was learning and doing things he was just really proud of. Sitting on a trapeze or being superman on top of someones legs pretty much can make a childs day!
We incorporated circus training into Byron’s routine as part of the fun therapy side and it perfectly went into sync with his OT and Speech, with both his therapists commenting on the leaps and strides he was taking once he started.
The confidence B man developed truly is put down to his time with circus stars. We just watched our little man flourish. And I know we aren’t the only ones. You won’t see one child in there working with Kristy and her team who don’t have a massive smile on their face and feel safe and part of the team. You can also guarantee that you will be supported by understanding parents who all too well will be able to relate to you in every way. The last little key issue…and let’s be honest here, the cost of things for an ASD child can get pretty scary. With therapies, specialists, resources…even if you do have funding, it can burn a whole in the pockets. Circus stars is very reasonably priced and for 10 hour lessons a term, definitely a wise investment where you will see results and your child will love. It’s a win win!
If you’re looking for something to add to your child’s life then I recommend running away with this little circus.
Here is what Kristy had to say about the company, her background and what’s next for Circus Stars.
Name: Kristy Seymour
Association: Circus Stars
Position: Founder and Head Trainers
Tell us a bit about yourself?
A Gold Coast based artist who has worked for over 16 years in the world of circus arts. Starting out as an aerialist, she now specialises in training, artistic direction and circus research. She is well known and respected for her extensive work in the Youth Circus sector, leading a team of inspiring artists as the Head Trainer of Flipside Circus in Brisbane 2004-2010. Working as a creative producer and choreographer, she has collaborated with leading arts organizations, venues and festivals such as: Strut n Fret Production House, The Brisbane Powerhouse, QPAC, Out of the Box Festival, the Brisbane Festival, Adelaide Fringe as well as the Woodford Folk Festival. In 2012 she completed her honours thesis “How circus training can enhance the well-being of children with autism and their families.” From this research she founded her circus school “Circus Stars” which is dedicated to children on the autism spectrum. Kristy is leading a team of innovators on the Gold Coast as the General Manager of newly formed collective “The Circus Corridor” and is currently completing her PhD titled: “Bodies, Temporality and Spatiality in Australian Contemporary Circus” at Griffith University Gold Coast
When did Circus stars start and what was the inspiration behind it?
I began working with autistic children during my time as Head Trainer at Flipside Circus, from there I began to see what a difference it was making to them and wanted to delve into it more. So after a 10 year break from academic study, I returned to Griffith University to do my Master of Arts and Media with Honours. Through this I wrote my first research thesis “How circus training can enhance the well-being of children with autism and their families.” . In 2013 I applied for RADF funding to start a pilot program for autistic children and their siblings, the funding was successful and the workshop series grew so rapidly that Circus Stars was born. I had more bookings than I could handle through the funded program so I began to run weekly classes. Nearly three years on we are still going steady and some of our students have been with us since the very beginning!
What has been your personal inspiration in becoming a boss lady and creating this company?
I have always been a leader and a creative risk taker! It was a natural progression for me to start my own company and the rewards I get from working directly with the kids and watching them grow and respond to the circus training are immense. I am very privileged to have to opportunity to use my artform in this way.
How did you get involved with the ASD community?
Autism kind of fell into my lap to be honest. I had been working with youth at risk ( refugee children, street kids and indigenous youth) through social circus for about 5 years before I began working with kids with various disabilities. It just so happened that my particular style of teaching circus meshed well with children on the spectrum. To build a base for Circus Stars I made the connection with peak bodies such as Autism Gold Coast who have been outstanding in helping me to connect to the community to build awareness and access for my program.
Tell us what Circus stars does?
Circus Stars is a specially designed circus training program for children with ASD founded in June 2013. An innovative way to develop gross and fine motor skills while having fun and building confidence, Circus Stars aims to create a supportive and gentle environment for children to take safe risks, develop confidence and social skills, all while improving their fine and gross motor skills, proprioception, vestibular activity and core strength. Circus Stars is the only circus school solely dedicated to children on the Autism Spectrum
What can students get out of classes?
The classes are structured to be a flexible and safe learning environment both physically and socially. Classes provide core stability, flexibility and our training targets both gross and fine motor skills using circus as the tool. Our students can expect to see vast changes and developments in their balance, proprioception and overall physical capacity, not only that we focus on social development such as; taking turns, group work, trust, safe risk taking and building confidence.
Can you run us quickly through your program and what it has to offer?
Our classes run on Saturday’s concurrent with the QLD school terms.
Where can we find you?
We are based at the Labrador Community Hub on the Gold Coast. You can keep up to date with what’s happening through our website: http://www.circusstarsasd.com or our facebook page: www.facebook.com/circusstars.autismcircus/
Circus Stars will soon be growing to hopefully reach more children through in school programs, and I am developing a master class series for circus trainers in Australia to learn more about my method and to help create a “best practice” for working with children with ASD.
Contact Circus Stars Directly
Circus Stars Founder/Head Trainer
0433 816 333
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