Today I was fortunate enough to volunteer at the Easter Egg Hunt For Acceptance of All Abilities put on by Autism Empowerment and The Miracle League of Vancouver. It was an amazing family friendly event with many great volunteers and vendors, all working together to make this day special for children with special needs and their families. It was great meeting new people and telling them about Specialty Athletic Training. With all the fun, also came with some challenging moments.
I was working at the registration table and helping sign people into the event. There was a little boy who had been waiting in line for over thirty minutes. He had Autism and was visibly upset that he was still waiting in line, which was in direct sunlight of the hottest day of the year to date. When they arrived at my table, his dad seemed embarrassed and said, "He has his good days and some days he is just on one." I responded by saying, "We all have our good days and our bad days. I would be frustrated too if I had to wait in line for over thirty minutes, in the sun, before I could hunt for Easter eggs."
Later on in the day, when I was at the Specialty Athletic Training resource table, I had a mom ask me, "Do you work with problem children? Sometimes my kid refuses to get up and will be physical. Can you work with him too?" Her child was also on the ASD spectrum. In my mind there is no such thing as a problem child, just a child that is not understood. Everyday presents an opportunity to educate and advocate!
My number one goal for my clients is for them to have fun and leave feeling better about themselves than when they arrive for their session at Lewis and Clark College. I always end the session with a preferred activity for my clients to work towards. Most of my clients like to play ping-pong or watch YouTube videos, but I have one client that has a very special preferred activity. We call it "Cliff Hunting".
My friend Gabriel has stuffed Tom and Jerry animals that he likes to drop from high elevations and watch them fall to the ground. Follow us on Instagram @SPECIALTYATHLETICTRAINING to follow our cliff hunting adventures!
Standing Partner Medicine Ball Twists
Anthony Ianni was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old. Medical professionals informed his parents that he would not be successful in school and that college was out of the question. They also informed them that their son would not be able be able to participate in athletics. He proved them WRONG! He graduated high school and went on to graduate from Michigan State University, earning his bachelors degree in Sociology. Anthony also was a full scholarship member of the MSU Men's basketball team. Check out his story HERE.
Lewis and Clark College's Student Alumni Association recently held a panel for current students to come and talk to alumni that have a career in the athletic field. I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a part of the panel and sat next to 4 other alumni and discussed how our experiences at Lewis and Clark College developed the tools that we needed to be successful. I was humbled and honored to be asked to take part of this great event and am always happy to be able to give back to the school that has given me so much.
My number one goal when I work with my clients is to make exercise FUN! I want them to enjoy moving their bodies and make it an integral part of their daily lives. I also want to teach them choices that they can make daily that will make them be physically and mentally healthier. Here is a note that I received from one of my clients yesterday. I love how she included a time to drink water in between her sets and her selection of healthy snacks!
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS is the head trainer and founder of Specialty Athletic Training. He is President of the Autism Society of Oregon's Board of Directors and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Ryan has worked with individuals with special needs since 2007 and has over 10,000 hours of 1:1 instruction working with individuals that have various special needs.