Evaluating Movement in adolescents with ASD
My first goals when working with a new athlete are:
A) Establish myself as someone who is reinforcing, friendly, and there to entertain
B) To get an accurate idea of how the athlete functions from a physiological, cognitive, and self-regulatory perspective
There is an art to figuring out what will be a low and what will be a high demand situation for an individual with autism. I cannot pour on the Sandbell exercises one after another and expect the athlete to immediately enjoy or be able to complete these activities.
The video below is a recent assessment session I did with a young athlete on the autism spectrum. He did a great job following directions, and I was able to keep physical prompting to a minimum and join in (partner exercises are always more fun). As we developed trust over the course of the session, I was able to get an in-depth understanding of how he moves, where the deficits are, and what activities were the most preferred.
Notice that many of my assessment exercises are also those that I commonly use. I want the “testing” exercises to closely resemble movement patterns that are required throughout the day or in common situations. We can always tweak (regress to simpler form) any of the movement patterns to develop areas of weakness. Another important factor in making the first session successful is a HIGH rate of behavior-specific praise.