Fitness and Young Adults with Autism
“Kevin” is holding up two small orange medicine balls to demonstrate the art of using something round as a stand-in for female breasts.
“I’m just joking,” he quickly, and authentically apologizes.
“It’s cool, Kevin. You are a funny guy.”
My Sunday group meets in the afternoon in a multi-purpose facility in mid-Long Island. Ranging from 17 to 26-years old, they each have different skill levels and ways of letting me know that they’re having a good time. Pause on that. Yes, a gaggle of young adults with autism are having a damn fine time swinging ropes, pressing dumbbells overhead, throwing medicine balls (without theatrics), and dare I mention, squatting.
Because these are higher functioning participants, there is a great deal of socialization occurring during and between sets of activity. I partner up two athletes on each side of the room for tandem overhead walks, Sandbell slams, and jumps.
There is no activity or environment better for building socialization and self-esteem within an hour. These athletes discuss their music preferences, school situations, job prospects, and, in one case of a big 26-year old guy, when the season finale of “Desperate Housewives” will air. He smiles while walking with a 15lb. dumbbell overhead.
If you don’t think this situation should be available for every young person with autism I’m not quite sure what to say or how to say it. Perhaps you need to come and watch my athletes for an hour. See them move, see them enabled, see them have a good, healthy time.
If Autism Fitness has no other legacy, it will be to create as many of these hours as possible. There won’t be a season finale.