Generalizing Movement Patterns, Autism Fitness Style
The reasons behind teaching exercises in smaller, incremental units are:
1) A movement pattern requiring several steps may be too challenging to learn all at once
2) Physical limitations including gross motor deficits may be present, which can inhibit optimal movement
3) Teaching the exercise gradually allows a young individual with autism to MASTER the skill rather than remain DEPENDENT on a prompt
4) Mastery leads to generalization of the skill across situations, environments, and instructors
I’ve heard plenty of “He/she knows how to…” when the reality is that the child can only demonstrate the skill in a particular setting with a particular individual. Fitness is about being prepared for daily life challenges, including the unexpected ones, such as tolerating an extra long line in the store (seem familiar?). In addition to building new skills, physical fitness can also aid in the development of resilience. Moving better and creating confidence through fitness is absolutely essential for children and young individuals with autism. Of course, you might have bypassed this text and gone straight for the video (I usually do that as well).
In this segment, I demonstrate, actually my athlete demonstrates how exercises learned as single units can be chained together to form more complex activities that include different movement patterns and objects. In this chain, we use a Hyperwear Sandbell along with our cones.
Watch the video and think about how many movement patterns we cover and how useful these can be for everyday life if mastered in a fun, reinforcing fitness session first. Here we go: