I specialize in training individuals with special needs, in particular, individuals on the autism spectrum. A majority of my training sessions take place at Lewis & Clark College and I am fortunate to be able to provide internships for their students. Most of my clients have a history of being bullied growing up and their self-esteem is pretty low. The main staple of my training sessions is to increase my client's self-esteem by using tons of positive reinforcement (both specific and general praise) and including a peer mentor to do the exercises with us. The student interns that serve as peer mentors are great, but their fellow classmates that are always around the Pamplin Sports Center (where I do my training on campus) are the ones that really make Lewis & Clark College special and a valuable asset to my company.
If you were to Google Lewis & Clark College, you would find multiple rankings and interesting facts. You would see that it is the #5 most beautiful campuses (Princeton Review) and it is a Top 75 academic institution (US News). You would also find out that it has a 12:1 student to teacher ratio and approximately 2,000 undergraduate students. There is also 17% of the student body that participate in varsity athletics. There is one thing that there is no measurement or statistic for, and that is the quality of the character of the 17% of the undergraduate population that call themselves student-athletes.
Their huge hearts and wide smiles have a tremendous impact on my clients daily. It comes in forms of allowing a little girl to brag about her basketball trophy and asking the men's basketball team if they have ever won one like hers and simply replying, "Not yet but we're still working on it." Or when female students stop and introduce themselves to a girl-crazed teenage boy that says hi to EVERY female that passes during his training session. Not only do they stop and introduce themselves, they go on to ask about how his day has been going and what he enjoyed about school.
I am very gracious that I have a business that allows me to give back to my alma mater and provide the current students with life changing internships. But there are no words that describe how thankful and proud I am to see the daily interactions between my clients and the Lewis & Clark College student-athletes. You can find that they are 17% of the undergraduate population at Lewis & Clark, but you CANNOT find anything that truly captures their temperament and compassion. That character is something that is unmeasurable.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CFNS, 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, as well as by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) as a Certified Fitness Nutrition 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.