It can be easily said that 2020 was a challenging year for us all. In the wake of COVID-19, many of our plans, practices, routines, and goals took a detour. While anecdotal evidence is mountainous, a recent study from the Journal of Lifespan and Disability quantifies the myriad health issues that are ongoing for individuals with ASD.
At Autism Fitness our goal is to elevate not only the standard of practice for fitness and adapted PE programs, but to have them considered as essential. Fitness is a life skill, and we are, in real time, witnessing a decline in quality of life for those with autism. If physical activity is not prioritized, the continuation of this trend will result in poorer health outcomes.
The solution here is, as Dan John might propose, “simple, but not easy.”
First, fitness must be recognized by the autism community, parents, family members, service providers, as a necessity rather than a secondary or “it would be nice if” priority.
Second, a consensus on and increased access to appropriate and meaningful fitness and adapted PE programs that meet the needs of all individuals regardless of age or ability level. Fitness programs that focus on strength, stability, and motor planning as a foundation for physical optimization have the highest potential for generalizing to life skills.
Third, building communities around fitness, as it does not happen best in isolation. This is just one reason why Autism Fitness is partnering with Inclusive Fitness.
Fourth, continued education. There is strength within interdisciplinary models and collaboration. In the Autism Fitness Certification Level 1 we have Occupational and Physical Therapists, Behavior Therapists, Parents and Family Members, Speech pathologists, Adapted PE coaches, Special educators, fitness trainers and more. All are specialists who learn to incorporate fitness programs into their existing practices.
In 2021 Autism Fitness will continue to deliver our optimized hybrid Certification Levels 1 and 2. We’ll continue to build the Autism Fitness Toolbox library with new videos and programming templates. And we will continue to lead the Movement for Movement around the world. As our Certified Pros are well aware, there is much work and much education to be done.
The question is; What legacy do we want to leave for this population? Do we want to keep reading about declining motor skills and health complications? We owe those with ASD better than that. And turning the trend is possible. And that depends on you.