The Athletes For Autism Personal Training Program is uniquely individualized for each participant. With awareness of the wide spectrum of needs for individuals with autism, caregiver questionnaires and initial fitness assessments are used to help a trained fitness professional design an ideal program to suit each participant and his/her caregiver/family. This customized fitness program is intended to improve the participant’s overall fitness as well as any areas of physical limitation.
Input from the caregivers is a vital component of this program. Trainers will utilize their guidance in developing positive mentoring relationships with each participant.
In addition, this program employs an evidence-based hidden curriculum that is rooted in a few guiding principles, noted below (White, 2007). Trainers and other personnel will embody these foundational principles throughout all facets of the fitness program.
- Develop a nurturing, fun environment
- Foster self-awareness and self-esteem
- Provide opportunities to practice skills in safe, natural settings
- Start with simple, easily learned skills
- Intersperse new skills with previously mastered skills
- Use modeling and role-play to teach skills
- Make teaching structured and predictable
- Differentially reinforce positive behaviors
- Orchestrate peer involvement
- Transition to group-oriented training
- Involve parents/caregivers in training