Derek's Strength

At the 2009 Autism One Conference I met Derek and his family. It was my first Autism One conference and I remember the encounter vividly. His mother wanted me to meet him but said he was “not well.”

Derek, who has Asperger’s and was around 25 yrs old, came up to me and was talking about girls etc. Seemed pretty normal for a 25 yr old but as I talked more with his family learned the challenges that they have been facing over the last 5 – 10 years. Because of everything he had been going through he had gained a considerable amount of weight.

Having learned from and worked with many families I do realize that helping calm behaviors, heal the gut, and have our children living a daily life becomes most important, especially before exercise. It is vital to their health and development but in Dereks case in 2009 it may not have been possible or safe.

Then in 2010 I was back at Autism One, educating and helping families & professionals. I ran into Derek and his family again. This time Derek was a bit more calm and now his focus was not on women but on the candy all around the conference. I talked more with his mom and the success over the last 12 months and within a month Derek and I took our first step toward the Exercise Connection.

His mom had actually made the first step. He had been used to a daily routine of rebounding (jumping on the tramboline) and she even did some yoga herself, which set the example for Derek.

We began by going to the local YMCA and started with simple cardio machines and floor exercises to strengthen his abdominals, glutes and improve his coordination, balance and tone. The obvious goal was for him to loose weight but my goal was for him to enjoy it and make it a part of his lifestyle.

For the next 12 months we tried it all and I gave him the independence to choose what he wanted. Derek loves basketball and swimming. His struggles with going over the deep end but did it once! (that’s another amazing story to share) He has successfully used weights, dumbbells, medicine balls, concoured some fears and most importantly smiled throughout the entire transformation.

About a month ago, I re-assessed Derek. Specifically his weight and circumference measurements. Over these 12 months I saw Derek almost once a week privately but he was also involved in another group I taught and his mom still did exercise with him at home. I could see changes but would not focus on the scale or measurements, weekly or even monthly. I focused on his happiness and his successes.

In just over 12 months Derek went from 238 lbs to 225lbs. For his circumference measurements he lost a total of 9 inches throughout his body. Not only that his strength and function of certain movements were also balanced. His mind and body was challenged each session.

Derek made the Exercise Connection.

Derek 12 months ago was a little less confident and not as independent. Now, not only because of exercise, that has changed. His mom, dad, his support team and everyone in his life helped along the way. Derek you are an inspiration to us all….