A large proportion of children on the autism spectrum have gross motor imbalances that affect gait, posture, and the ability to correctly perform “big” movements (pushing, pulling, running, climbing, etc.) Few, if any, fitness programs exist that focus on long-term fitness development. As a result, the movement deficits or imbalances that occur in infancy continue to persist into later stages of life. Ironically, studies show that vigorous activity for more than twenty minutes at a time can help decrease stereotypical behaviors, hyperactivity, and aggression. Exercise not only helps autistic children better engage in the environment, but it also helps promote weight loss and leads to better overall health. We at Inclusively Fit couldn’t agree more.
The Inclusively Fit program for autism first starts with setting fitness goals around “big” movements. From there, our trainers will ensure suggested vigorous activity is incorporated into every workout and that progress is closely monitored, goals are continuously evaluated, and resets are made as needed. To encourage client engagement, our trainers will often pair exercises with known reinforcing activities (playing a favorite game, free time, listening to favorite music). This helps us to achieve fitness goals.
An Added Benefit to School Age Clients
The founder of Inclusively Fit has a degree in Special Education, has worked as a teacher and has extensive experience with the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. The IEP is a written document for students with disabilities ages 3 through 25 that outlines the student’s educational needs and goals and any programs and services the intermediate school district and/or its member district will provide to help the student make educational progress. At Inclusively Fit, we work with parents and review existing IEPs to incorporate any applicable goals that could also be focused on during fitness sessions. For example, social goals like taking turns, greeting others, following multi-step directions, answering yes or no questions, etc.
The overall goal here, strongly aligning with our Mission, is to collaborate with our clients, families, and schools to consistently reinforce common goals and help our clients with everyday inclusion.
We’re happy to report, it works.