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Autism and Exercise: Today is the World Autism Awareness Day- My experience training a kid with severe Autism. This is my story

April 2, 2013

Autism Statistics

Autism and Exercise: Autism Therapy. Image Purchased: Bigstockphoto

As a Physical trainer we approach new clients in a very methodical way. We are experienced in program design to deliver the most optimal results in the minimum amount of time being highly cost efficient. In other words, we tend to see a perfect world where we bring our clients through motivation, specific progressive exercises and optimal nutrition programs. Unfortunately my approach with a new client three years ago with severe autism did not work. Her mother insisted me please to not leave, to keep trying some exercises, some movements something. The mom was frustrated cause the kid because of her condition was suffering important aggressive behaviors being not able to cope with functional and social challenges. So I decided to stay and ask myself this question: what if my approach of envisioning a perfect world for my clients was wrong? What if my client with Autism has a perfect and wonderful world that I was not being aware of and “Home run” that was exactly the problem my approach was wrong I needed to be part of her world not her being part of mine! So I started trying to get close to her, whenever she said a word “muffin” “dinner” I would repeat it right after fast and I remember she looking at me maybe wondering: ” what is this guy trying to do? Is my friend? Well it is not going to be that easy I am a tough cookie” And through constant mirror and imaging I tried to get close to her trying to break into her perfect world. She let me in, I found some exercises that she loved like bouncing in a stability ball, some others she didn’t like walking with closed eyes or maintaining certain intensity in the treadmill but for sure one that she loved was lying down in pitch black room after engaging in a treadmill aerobic exercise. It has been an incredible journey of personal reflection, discovery and understanding on a condition that I was not aware of till I met her. Now she is my best client: I see her 4 times a week and she engages in quite intense structured progressive exercise program that has left me speechless on how well she adapst every time and how great she feels after helping her to use exercise as a “medicine” for maladaptive behaviors, better sleep and strength especially keeping an optimal weight. However what i feel it is more important is that feel part of a process where I am helping her to be successful and not only her but her parents as well.

Somatosensory Difficulties in Autism

By Child Psychiatrist Dr Gregory Lombardo MD

Gregory Lombardo MD

Gregory Lombardo MD

Dr Lombardo is board certified in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry and is a diplomate of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. He is the author of “Understanding the mind of your bipolar child”

The severity and the range of symptoms seen in children grouped under the diagnosis of autism can vary.  However, one of the most common is difficulty with motor coordination and difficulty integrating movement with perception of space.  Some clinicians believe that stereotyped movements (such as flapping, spinning, or head banging) are attempts on the part of autistic children to locate themselves in space or to manage the anxiety resulting from profound spatial disorientation.  An important source of this disorientation is poor coordination of the left and right cerebral hemisphere.  Poor coordination of the left and right brain affects three dimensional vision, balance, motor coordination (both fine and gross), and the ability to maintain concentration while moving or while having to distinguish details in three dimensional space.

These difficulties stigmatize autistic children and profoundly affect peer relationships:  tasks that other children manage without any conscious effort–such as judging another child’s personal space, managing complex spatial environments, and interpersonal contact in a group–can be extremely difficult for these children.  Joining in aggressive or athletic play is most often quite beyond their reach.  Consequently, these handicaps profoundly affect self esteem and social development.  They also affect these children’s relationship to their own bodies–their ability to enjoy their physical self.

Super Body, Super Brain improves integration of the right and left hemispheres.  Using a series of exercises that gradually build coordination, balance, and strength, the program addresses this crucial handicap which autistic children suffer.  One of the beauties of the program is its adaptability to almost any level of competence.  Another special strength is the capacity of the Brain Muscle Workout to address these crucial handicaps without specifically identifying them. Instead the exercises can be made into a game that uses the magic of play to empower a child’s learning with fun.  A child’s self esteem is protected and ultimately strengthened while their enjoyment and control of their body increases.

Importance of improving balance, coordination and social interaction.

To watch the clip of the school program please click in the following link:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a new study. Autism spectrum disorders are almost five times more common among boys than girls — with 1 in 54 boys identified.

Among my daily clients include  Athletes, bankers, editors in chief, actresses, models, lawyers, doctors and special needs children. Training these kids it has been an incredible experience but especially working with a girl with severe autism has reported me so much satisfaction that I can not express in my own words.

These three last years has been an incredible journey for me, I keep learning every day and me and my client are working as a team since we got started, 3 years ago. The capacity these kids have for success and their willingness to give their best still leaves me speechless even today.  I have been working for the last two years in devising a specific program for them where they will improve the brain plasticity with movement, multi-tasking, sensory system, balance, hand eye coordination and confidence.

Meditation is really important for kids with Autism and everyone else. I practice with my client lying down in a dark room and relax for 5 minutes teaching breathing and a better sense of self awareness. Very excited that my client is responding so well to my program.

From PARENTS.COM Exercises for Kids with Autism – And Everyone

by Diane Debrovner from

A smart mom friend of mine who used to be a reporter at The New York Times told me about the new book, Super Body, Super Brain, by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace. He is a personal trainer who has collaborated with neuroscientists to develop a series of research-based exercises that encourage connections between different regions of the brain. Says neurobiogist John H. Martin, Ph.D., in the book’s Foreword: to keep reading click here

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