With more than half of the children with autism spectrum
disorder she sees overweight, special needs fitness guru Suzanne
Gray decided she needed to do what she could to get these kids
She says many of the kids she encounters have poor posture and
muscle tone and are scared to move because of bad experiences on
the playground or in physical education class. She found herself
wondering what the extra weight would mean as they get older.
"The need for these kids to be on a structured fun
program, from what I can see, is absolutely essential," says Gray,
mom of four boys, owner of Right Fit Sports Fitness Wellness in
Willowbrook and author of 101 Games and Activities for Youth with
She urges parents to get on the floor or outside
exercising with their kids because, she says, it's good for them,
While all 101 exercises in the book won't work for every
child, Gray says parents will find at least half that work for
their child. Here are a few simple exercises to get you
Raise the Bar is one
exercise I like to introduce because of its simplicity to integrate
in the child's daily life.
You'll need a 2-foot 1-inch dowel rod. With your child,
personalize with stickers, paint, etc. (NOTE: The child in the
photo has added a resistance band to the stick.)
Place feet shoulder-width apart (place two marks where
left and right foot should be placed); grip stick with palms facing
down, shoulder-width apart. Arms extended in front for initial
starting position, raise over the head to full extension and lower
back down to initial starting position.
Recite the chant: "Raise the Bar! You're a Star! Raise the
Bar! You'll Go Far!"
Ever find yourself running in circles
playing a game of chase with your child? Try this simple solution:
The Hula Hoop is a parent's child catcher, mover and
You'll need a Hula Hoop.
Grip Hula Hoop with overhand grip. Child may stand inside
or outside the Hula Hoop; adult provides verbal cue,"Ready! March!"
and pulls the child forward, walking briskly for 10 or more
Variations: Hula Hoop Capture, Hula Hoop Run, Hula Hoop
Carry and Lift (carry and grip with two hands raising hoop up and
down to touch toes), Hula Hoop Roll (roll hoop back and forth with
a partner) and Hula Hoop Throw (throw hoop back and forth with
Rather than commanding a
child to run around a track, add in this key component: Shout
"Ready! Set! GOOOOOO!!" and begin with a shorter distance such as a
20-yard dash to get them excited enough to give it a go.
You'll need an area to move and cones or objects for
visual start and stop.
Place visual cues or cones for both a starting and
stopping position and line up. Adult can hold child's left or right
hand and provide verbal cue, "Ready! Set! Go!" and run, skip, hop
or shuffle for 20 yards or more forward, backward or sideways until
you reach stopping position.
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