Discovering Creativity in Fitness
Creativity and play often seem too abstract to define or measure, yet they are two of the most important areas for optimal physical, adaptive, and cognitive development. For many individuals with autism, engaging in play or seeking out new physical activities is a significant deficit. We often see stereotypical behaviors (know by their street name, “stimming”) that are repeated over and over without any real net benefit.
Some argue that “stimming” is a way to alleviate stress, provide physical input or stimulation, and arouse the central nervous system. Which is all fine, except that there ARE other options. Therapeutic intervention should always seek to improve quality of life by providing NEW OPTIONS. They will not immediately replace stereotypical behaviors, but given enough time and consistency (see also; work), more appropriate alternatives can take the place of the stimmy stuff.
Where does creativity come from? From seeking out new experiences and actions based on existing skills. You can’t write a song if you haven’t heard music and you cannot “invent” a new way to jump over a rock if you’ve no experience jumping.
So check this out; My teen and young adult Autism Fitness class performs 3 or 4 variations of rope swings. In this video, towards the end of his swings, “Kenny” starts swinging them all over the place. This is EXACTLY how fitness can act as a gateway to the creative process for individuals with ASD. The video is below:
If Kenny had not:
1) Learned to swing the rope
2) Developed the strength endurance to swing the rope for a good duration of time
3) Found the rope SOMEWHAT reinforcing
He would never have taken those last few seconds to start playing around with it. And THAT ladies and gentlemen, is where fitness begins to crawl out of the primordial soup of simple instruction and open up new areas of ability and opportunity.