The Same, only Different
A few weeks ago I visited one of the schools here on the East Coast that has implemented the PAC Profile as a physical education program for their students.
Many of the teachers embraced the program, as they finally had activities that worked for their students with autism. A few had questions about the programming; What to do if a student did not understand an activity, or what to do when they “mastered” or were now able to achieve the exercise independently.
For students with autism, it will most likely take many repetitions of the same movement or exercise for mastery to occur. Not only are there physical deficits to cover, but self-regulatory/behavioral, and cognitive obstacles as well.
It is important to include the 5 Big Movement Patterns in each physical fitness or PE session. They are (in no particular order):
Here is where science meets art. Taking these movement patterns and having performed a PAC Assessment on a student enables you to come up with various activities and exercises that do the same thing…which is a good thing.
With squatting as an example, we have at least 3 activities in the PAC Assessment alone that represent variations of this movement pattern. Bodyweight squats, Bear walks, and Bend knees/arms up are all different activities that do essentially the same thing.
There is a gray area between getting in enough opportunities for an individual with autism to master a movement pattern and he/she becoming bored or over-exposed to a single exercise. By breaking activities into the 5 categories of movement and providing a few variations of each one with different equipment, you can develop a fitness program that is stimulating AND successful.