Tagged with: Autism Physical Activity World Autism Day
This past Sunday (April 3) I was featured on NBC Chicago’s Morning News program, where we demonstrated fitness activities for youth with autism and profiled my recently published book, “101 Games and Activities for Children with Autism”. Always nerve-wracking to appear on live TV, I was joined by one of my trainers, Eric Stone, and a client who performed some of the exercises from Right Fit’s “Raise the Bar” autism fitness program.
I asked one of our 10-year-old clients, Sean Knobbe, to come with us and he became an instant star. Working with a child on the autism spectrum poses some challenges as TV sets are full of bright lights, lots of people and can be very intimidating. We had very limited space as well as limited time to get our message across. We had practiced the routine with Sean a couple of days before NBC’s special feature. Although Sean had only been training with us for about a month and a half, he already knew some of the basic exercises fairly well.
While doing a pre-interview with the news anchor, trainer Eric, set-up our area but, he quickly realized that our limited space did not lend itself to some of the exercises we had planned. As the cameras started to roll, I highlighted the benefits of exercise for children with autism, and Eric started putting Sean through some of our basic exercises.
I saw that Eric had to ad-lib a few of the exercises. My mind immediately went into “teaching mode” and so I suggested a new exercise as I explained the exercise to the news anchor. Sean seemed somewhat confused at first as this exercise, a “donkey kick” had not been in our original plan. After a little bit of encouragement from Eric and me, Sean got into the right position and performed the exercise perfectly.
Overall, we thought the news feature went great and Sean did a great job. Any 10-year-old would be nervous going on television. Changing the routine at the last minute would be especially difficult for a child with autism as they rely on routine and structure. It is always a learning experience for me seeing Right Fit’s young clients respond to different environments and challenges that are put in front of them. I was proud of Sean, and hope it was a great experience that he will remember for a long time. It’s no surprise he left saying “I am a movie star.”