Right Fit offers workouts for autistic children

July 24, 2011 7:00:38 AM PDT
Being physically active is essential for all children with and without disabilities.

For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it takes a lot to make that happen.

Customized exercise-related activities help improve motor skills and muscle tone. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it also eliminates self-destructive and self-stimulating behaviors while enhancing socialization skills for these children.

At Right Fit in Willowbrook, children with autism are working on different actives that are tailored to their needs.

"We really see physiological characteristics that stand out with a lot of these autistic spectrum children because the umbrellas so big we'll see low muscle tone, we'll see posterior chain muscles that are weak we'll balance issues and balance affects everything we'll see motor planning dyspraxia," said Suzanne Gray, founder of Right Fit.

"What we'll do is we'll individualize it and we'll assess the child and win them over by being positive and help them experience success," she said.

Gray has spent more than 30 years developing fitness programs for people with and without disabilities. She understands many of the challenges faced by people with autism.

"We structure the class not by what level but what experiences that they need and the raise the bar program has eight different movement experiences. so if the music isn't working then we'll go straight into the fine motor and we'll go back to a successful experience and we'll move back to something that we need to work on,"

Children work with a trainer one-on-one or in a group.

"We call them the 'Three C Trainers.' They are certified, they are committed and they are very compassionate and caring and what they do is they go through a training program with us before they teach a special needs class," Gray said.

Carmel Marshall's 20-year-old son Nicholas has sensory, communication and sometimes behavioral issues. He comes to Right Fit once a week.

"You know, physical fitness makes people feel good and when you have a special classes geared to them where they understand their communication needs and their sensory needs and their motor planning needs it makes for a really good class and it make them feel good. It regulates their systems and just overall emotional health," Marshall said.

Mary Carol Grabill wants her son Tommy to be as fit and active as the rest of the family.

"He's here twice a week with a personal trainer, a private trainer and then he also does group classes on Thursdays and Saturdays," Grabil said.

"I saw the importance of him working out, the stress that it relieved because you know he has a lot of stress and anxiety before he goes to school so this is like an outlet an avenue where he can release that energy and perform better at school as well at home," Grabil said. "Since we've been working out at Right Fit, we no longer have to take any medication which commonly people who have autism sometimes take Risperdal."

This spring, Gray's book "101 Games and Activities for Youth with Autism" was released.

"I believe movements open doors for everyone so oh my gosh if they're going to be left behind, if we're going to not even keep them fit, then what we have to understand is the importance of this," Gray said.

Group classes at Right Fit cost anywhere from $18 to $25 a class. Private training starts at $50 to $60 per session.

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