I was an active kid, who began to gain weight in elementary school after I stopped much of my free play and began playing a team sport (baseball, where I ended a promising career as a bench-warming high school catcher). I can distinctly recall being The official fat kid throughout middle school.
Discovering exercise and nutrition late in high school (and actually beginning to apply it in college), Fast forward a bit, and I became certified as a fitness trainer and worked with general population clients for several years.
I began working with the autism population over a decade ago as a summer camp counselor. Even then, prior to foreseeing my career, I was fascinated with several campers I met who were on the autism spectrum. While taking graduate courses towards a degree in general psychology, a classmate asked if I would be interested in applying my fitness background to a program for teenagers on the Autism Spectrum. At that time, I was unsure of what I wanted in a career. I was hired to develop and implement fitness programs for several students who, in addition to having autism, exhibited some gross motor challenges.
While developing fitness programs for my students, I underwent intensive training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I integrated the teaching strategies from ABA with my working knowledge of exercise, and steadily began developing my own model and methods for implementing successful fitness programs for children with Autism. Around the same time, I was researching, or attempting to research the most effective fitness programs for young people on the autism spectrum. I found virtually nothing on the subject. It was at this point I realized what I wanted to do with my career; to be an advocate and resource for bringing fitness to the autism community.
Now as the Founder of Autism Fitness, I am dedicated to not only providing fitness services to young individuals on the spectrum, but to educating other fitness trainers, PE and APE coaches, parents, therapists and other professionals on how to optimize development through exercise. With fitness as a cornerstone, optimal development is enabled.
My philosophy and approach to fitness programming is this; Build foundations of strength and stability, power and coordination through the basic movement patterns. When working/playing with my athletes I have two primary goals; For my athletes to move better, and for them to eventually find at least a few reinforcing aspects to physical activity. Beyond these, we can and may focus on developing language, increasing focus on tasks, socialization, and initiating activity (the basis for creative movement).