The Five Rules of Autism Fitness
I’m less of a written-in-stone type of person than I am a carry a heavy stone for 30 yards type of professional. There are, however, certain concepts that I apply to every aspect of my fitness programs for the young autism population:
THE FIVE RULES OF AUTISM FITNESS:
1) You Can’t Force Fun
Tell a a kid mid-meltdown that she’s having a good time. Suggest to the reluctant teen with high-functioning autism that “It’ll be a blast!” if he learns to squat correctly. We have to motivate through both demonstration and by identifying what else is reinforcing for the individual. It certainly isn’t fitness…yet.
2) Use the Big Five Movement Patterns
– Pushing (movement away from the body)
– Pulling (movement towards the body)
– Rotation (movement around the body)
– Bending (lower body pushing or pulling)
– Locomotion (Getting from point A to point B)
Use them in circuit stations, or one after another, use them in combination, create your own. Pretend the movements are Leggos. What can you build?
3) If we move regularly and vigorously, we are ATHLETES
I’m not redefining the term for semantic reasons, but for practical reasons. How many of us play team sports into adulthood? Are sports the only thing we can do to be active and healthy? Lightbulb. We need to expand the definition to include much more in the way of movement.
4) Sports do NOT equal Fitness
Sports are SPECIFIC, Fitness is GENERAL. We need to be FIT to participate in sports (to be safe from injury and to excel), we do not need to play sports to be physically healthy, able, and capable.
5) Structured teaching for Chaotic Use (The Principle of PLAY)
We need (all of us) to play more. Skip, run, crawl, hop, jump, throw, laugh, repeat. If the foundational skills are not yet developed, and if movement is not motivating, it will be difficult to engage in free play.
I am diligently finishing up the PAC Profile Assessment program. I want it ready by the end of the month so that educators can begin incorporating fitness into the classroom as an addition to or replacement for ( in the event that one does not exist in the school) adaptive PE programs. Look for more info soon on www.AUTISMFITNESS.com