Once a week, Suzy Brown brings her daughter to Te Puke from Tauranga for a one-on-one lesson at Te Puke Gymsport.

Bianca Curtis, 11, has autism and high needs - she is also a very flexible and a talented gymnast.

Suzy says she has a friend whose daughter also had special needs and who was being coached in Te Puke.

''Because of the skill set of the coaches at Te Puke, we gave it a go and even though it takes up a large chunk of time, it's worth the drive.''


She says coach Kelly Adlington is ''just incredible with [Bianca]''.

The arrangement is working, as Bianca has been coached by Kelly for close to two years.

One of the main benefits of using Te Puke Gymsport is Bianca is learning to do things safely.

''Bianca was watching YouTube clips on how to do things, but not doing them properly, which can do a lot of damage,'' says Suzy.

''[The gym] is a safe environment with coaches who have got the skills to teach her and the tumble track is a lot safer to learn to do a back hand springs and things like that.

''She just loves it and the times it's not on, she's quite sad.''

Kelly and Suzy both think Bianca has the skill for competitive gymnastics and Kelly is keen for her to take part in the club championships later in the year.

''Bianca's got this talent and we've got a coach with the ability to teach her, so that would be an achievement for Bianca,'' says Suzy.


''She's got a lot of talent and is extremely flexible and strong,'' says Kelly. ''A lot of the stuff she teaches herself is from watching YouTube. The technical side, she's not so
worried about. She likes it when she can complete a skill and doesn't worry too much about what it looks like.''

Bianca is achieving at the Step levels other girls at Te Puke Gymsport are at, but one thing she would have to overcome to compete would be her reticence on the beam.

''She doesn't have any confidence when it comes to beam, but in a competitive programme, she'd have to do that to get a level.''

Kelly says coaching Bianca is ''incredibly refreshing''.

Every single week, I don't know what I'm going to get, what she's going to want to do.''

''It's really rewarding for me and completely different because I have to constantly check myself and how I'm communicating with her. I go from coaching extremely structured lessons 90 per cent of the time, then Bianca comes in and she just blows that out of the
water and you have to go with the flow.''

It has taken Kelly a lot longer than normal to gain her charge's confidence.

''She's a really neat kid and I'm really proud of the way we've built our relationship so that she trusts me now, where in the beginning it wasn't like that - she wouldn't let me help her with any skills or anything like that but now she'll actually ask for my help.''

Bianca also has dance lessons, with the two disciplines complementing one another. She is a student at Tauranga Intermediate School.