Goal Setting in Autism Fitness Step-by-Step, Jump-by-Jump


So here in this video we have Mr. W performing an exercise chain of squat-to-presses with a 4lb. Sandbell to a Dynamax med ball, followed by three low hurdle jumps.

Autism Fitness Squat to Press + Hurdle Jumps

To get to this point in skill development, Mr. W had to master the following:

– Bodyweight squats to the ball

– Overhead press with the 4lb. Sandbell

– Forward jumps without hurdles

– At least 1 jump over hurdle

The above are all physical abilities. From an adaptive perspective, he needed to be sufficiently motivated to perform these activities. Cognitively, an association or contingency needed to be established between the verbal direction, or name of the exercise, and the performance of that exercise. When I say “W, do seven squats,” he has to understand the word “squat” in order to follow the direction.

From the perspective someone who wants to improve movement qualities (strength, stability, motor planning, and strength endurance), there are a few items in this video that need to be cleaned up.

You see how Mr. W’s head begins to tilt forward? We need to work on that. It is important to hold a neutral spine when squatting.

You see that third jump he does? Feet come apart. His ability to generate power and stabilization during the movement is lacking. Since he can perform the first two jumps well, our next goal is to get that third one more efficient.

Of course, Mr. W will know absolutely none of this. A different coach might tell an athlete what they’re doing incorrectly, and say “no, not that way,” or “You can do that better!” And that coach could also do us a favor and walk off a cliff so nobody is inconvenienced.  “You can do better” is not an intervention for a physical skill set that needs proper development.

To progress from where he’s at in this video may require some visual cuing. I might have W look at a cone I’m holding while he squats to get his head in proper alignment.  To master those 3-in-a-row jumps, I may push that hurdle farther back to provide a few extra steps and recovery.  Perhaps for now the third jump can be to a pair of spot markers without the hurdle.

We can progress movement patterns through adding weight, adding additional movement, adding repetitions, and adding time. For any of these progression options, the pattern should be as stable and safe as possible.

Live Inspired,



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