Published by The Mighty 9/11/2019
If your partner is having a rough day, what do you do to brighten it? You might swing by the store and grab some their favorite flowers for a thoughtful surprise. Maybe you decide to take them out on a date and help them clear their head of whatever has been bothering them that day. For me, I throw on an Amy Schumer movie or Netflix special and know that it will bring a smile to my wife's face.
Amy Schumer is my wife's favorite comedian and has an uncanny ability to make her laugh really hard. Like deep belly laugh, tears flowing hard. She also just so happened to be pregnant at the same time as my wife, Mary. Mary was having a rough pregnancy day (the ones where her hormones were racing AND the baby wouldn't stop trying to make more room in their crowded uterus suite) so we cuddled up on the couch and turned on "Growing", Amy Schumer's Netflix special. Little did I know that by watching it, I would find out that Mary wasn't the only one that had something in common with Amy and that I did as well. Our love for autism.
During the show, Amy opens up a little bit about her personal life. She talks about her pregnancy and being recently married. She also shines light on an unexpected topic, her love for autism.
"And once he was diagnosed, it dawned on me how funny it was because all of the characteristics that make it clear that he's on the spectrum are all of the reasons that I fell madly in love with him."
Schumer discusses how her husband is the "dream man". His lacks awareness of social norms, is apologetically blunt, and is unable to lie. These are all of the characteristics that led her to fall in love with him.
When I first started working in the field of autism back in 2007, the boy that I was working with shared many of these same characteristics. He was blunt, unable to lie, and often experienced the world differently than myself. He had not developed the social filter and was unaware of social norms. My experience working with him was life changing and inspired me to create Specialty Athletic Training in 2012.
Specialty Athletic Training was created to provide access to healthy living to individuals with special needs. I saw the need to serve this community and provide personal training services that were individualized to their needs. But it was also created selfishly for myself because of the joy it brought me working with them.
I loved the bluntness of Benjamin (the inspiration behind Specialty Athletic Training). If I had a tuna sandwich for lunch, you better believe he'd let me know that my breath smelled bad. If I was trying to break the silence during a long car ride, he'd reinforce the fact that he wanted silent time. He would say what was on his mind and I found how much easier it made communication.
But I also fell in love with his heart, which is what I have found to be the common denominator in all the children and adults that we have the opportunity to work with. They are the most genuine and caring people that you will have a chance to interact with. In a world that can be often filled with chaos and darkness, they are a positive light and teach me daily how to love life and what is really important.
Author B.J. Neblett said that, "We are the sum total of our experiences. (They) make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow."
Because of Benjamin and all of the other people that I have had the opportunity to work with since creating Specialty Athletic Training, I am a much better person from the sum of those experiences and am glad that they will continue to influence and reshape me for the years to come.
Many of you are familiar with the inspiration behind Specialty Athletic Training and my relationship with a boy named Ben. However, there is another guy that also holds a special place in my life. My buddy Patrick.
Patrick and I both stepped onto the Lewis & Clark College campus at the same time in the Fall of 2003. It was my first year playing collegiate football and his first year serving as team manager.
If you know Patrick, then you know how contagious his smile can be and how he uses it to his advantage. He used to have me and other athletes but him CD's (back when Napster was still a thing) of playlists that he created. This passion for music eventually led him to become the DJ for the home volleyball and basketball game for the Pioneers.
Being around the weight room and the athletes, he naturally gravitated to working out. We would have him join for a set on the bench or some arm farm action, but he never had a program specifically designed for him. I was ecstatic when he parents asked me to train him after I founded Specialty Athletic Training.
Fast forward to 2019 and we're still hanging out on Palatine Hill. He's a staple in the L&C athletic community and is still DJing home games for the volleyball and basketball teams. He is also working out with our trainers twice a week, and will often come in early to get in extra cardio!
Thank you for being a part of my a part of my life for the 15+ years, Patrick. Continue being you and bringing joy to everyone that you meet!
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!
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*D, CSPS*D is the Founder and CEO of Specialty Athletic Training. He is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. Lockard is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the advisory board for the NSCA Oregon chapter.