Having written dozens of articles about fitness for the autism and special needs population over the past 8 years I’ve learned, omitted, added, and altogether changed much of the information that I provide and the method of delivery. I have realized that you probably are not too interested in the anatomy and physiology of movement. Why young Bill’s hip mobility is important when considering postural alignment? I care. But, you probably don’t. And that’s just fine.
I recognize that each person reading my column in PSN, providing there is more than one of you, has a different set of “main factors”
Factor 1: Your relationship to the special needs community. Parent? Teacher? Therapist? Adaptive PE coach? Pet parakeet?
Factor 2: Your ability to provide ongoing fitness programs for others. Do you have the information you need? Do you know where to find it (hint: AutismFitness.com)? Can you implement exercise programs in a meaningful and significant way?
Factor 3: Are you motivated to provide fitness programs for the special needs individual(s) in your personal or professional life?
Each year I provide more online trainings, live workshops, and conference presentations and am graciously lauded with praise and enthusiasm from the parents and professionals in attendance. But how many of them actually go on to DO SOMETHING with the material? With full disclosure, it is a great feeling to know that my work is appreciated, but it does not change any lives simply to enjoy a presentation or “like” things on Facebook.
There are several conferences that I attend annually and see the same people in my sessions. They’re happy, excited, and I can almost guarantee prepared to do absolutely nothing, yet again, with the information.
Much as my PAC Profile addresses the Physical, Adaptive, and Cognitive needs of individuals with autism and related disorders, you need an honest assessment of where you are, and could be, in providing fitness programs for your kids, teens, adults, students, or insert noun, pronoun. There is a big difference between “can” and “will” in any undertaking. Can you devote time and effort? Will you do it based on the availability of time and resources?
I don’t watch too much TV, as I am bad at sitting for extended periods of time. One show I do enjoy is Restaurant: Impossible, on the food network. Each week, the host, Robert Irvine, visits a failing eatery and, in the course of 48 hours, turns the entire place around from décor to operations to food/menus, to staff interaction. The best part, and how this has anything to do with this article, is how efficiency and motivation, properly channeled, can lead to great accomplishment.
On the following page is a short self-assessment of where you are motivation and otherwise, for creating and implementing fitness programs for those with special needs. Go through these questions. Answer them honestly.
Self-Assessment on Fitness
1) I think fitness is (_), for individual(s) with special needs.
- a) Vitally important
- b) Very important
- c) Somewhat important
- d) Not really necessary
- e) Not at all important
2) I feel (_) to start a fitness program in my home, classroom, or center
- a) Highly motivated
- b) Motivated
- c) Could be motivated if I had some help
- d) Not very motivated
- e) Fearful and overwhelmed
3) I am (_) in my understanding about fitness and play
- a) Confident
- b) Know enough to put together a basic program
- c) Know enough to start out
- d) Know that I don’t know
- e) I know basketball, baseball, and soccer, what else is there?
4) I am willing to devote (_) hours a week to fitness programming and play
- a) More than 5
- b) 2-4 hours
- c) 1-2 hours
- d) 1 hour
- e) Less than 1 hour
5) I am (_) willing to begin exercising and moving around so that I am a better instructor with regard to teaching movement.
- a) Already exercise plenty
- b) Very
- c) Somewhat, just a little bit
- d) Not too crazy about the idea
- e) No way, not at all
6) I am (_) willing/able to purchase equipment and informational resources to improve or help develop my fitness knowledge and programming
- a) Very willing and very able
- b) Depends just how much
- c) Tight budget but it is important to me
- d) Wary of spending money on fitness
- e) Not willing/able
In the next article we’ll explore the various outcomes and how to start from any point.
Fitness Challenge: Follow-up and Follow-through
Eric Chessen, M.S., YCS Eric Chessen, M.S. is the creator of the PAC Profile Assessment Toolbox (www.Autismfitness.com), PAC Profile Workshop series, and consults with special needs programs around the world. Available on www.Autismfitness.com
Photo Courtesy of photoxpress.com, Ann Triling
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- Turning Physical Fitness into Fun for Life
- The Family Factor of Five: Making Time for Fitness (and Actually Doing It)
- The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Fitness Programs
- 4 Exercise Progressions, 5W’s, and an H
- Waving Not Drowning: The Process of Making Fitness Fun
- Looking for a Fun Family Exercise? How About Parkour!
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2012 Magazine