Beyond Boundaries: Physical Fitness and the Autism Population

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Beyond Boundaries
Physical Fitness and the Autism Population
What is Fitness?
is the ability to successfully engage in a variety of activities and challenges in daily life and athletic pursuits. Through fitness we can develop a joy of movement and a greater awareness of our own bodies Physical activity aids in the prevention of numerous diseases and imbalances
Movement Deficits and Autism
- Provost (2007), McDuffie (2007), Milne (2006), Rinehart (2006), and VernazzaMartin (2005) all reported gross motor deficits in children with autism when compared with neurotypical peers - Gross motor deficits become muscular imbalances, inhibiting and distorting posture, gait, and the ability to engage in dynamic activities - - Just because a child CAN perform a movement does not mean they are performing it CORRECTLY
Common deficits in ASD
Odd/imbalanced Low
tone Weak/inhibited posterior chain Trunk stability Hip flexibility Poor tolerance of extended periods of activity
The Benefits of (good) Fitness Programs
of movement patterns and kinesthetic awareness Can (over time) aid in the correction of muscular imbalances and weaknesses Instills a lifestyle conducive to optimal performance in a variety of situations Self-efficacy, Self-determination,
Able and Engaged!
The Special Needs Athlete
on “BIG” gross motor movements 5 basic categories of movement: Pushing Pulling Rotation Level change Locomotion
Designing a program
exercises that fulfill all 5 movements Begin with the simplest exercises and progress in complexity as they are mastered Be creative and fun. There is not just one exercise for each movement goal; there are many, many options
Pulling in one of its many variations
Motivation and Reinforcement
exercise with known reinforcers is the KEY to a successful and long-term program Behavior-specific praise results in mastery occurring sooner Exercise programs should be introduced gradually at the physical and cognitive pace of the athlete A balance should exist between mastered targets that are used in the program and current teaching targets
Teaching new movements
prompts are often necessary, but should be faded as quickly as possible to facilitate independent mastery Verbal cues/prompts should be minimal, ideally the Sd, for example, “Do a jumping jack” should be the only verbal exchange (apart from verbal praise)  Imitation/mirroring is the ultimate prompt. Imitation requires visual focus, concept formation, and
The Essentials
 Fitness
is not about being good at a sport, it benefits all aspects of life from general health to cognitive functioning to social reciprocity  General movements must ALWAYS be developed before focusing on sport-specific skills  Fitness programs should focus on 5 basic movement patterns and address individual deficits and skills  Fitness programs should be developed with specific goals in mind  Exercise programs should incorporate principles of positive reinforcement and behavior-specific praise  It is not about AN exercise, it is about eliciting the movement pattern  If you are teaching exercise, you should be doing some yourself as well.
The Beginning
“Fitness builds futures”