Fitness Program for Children with Autism

Its effectiveness, so far, is unmatched

Lisa Riddle, a mentor of the Charleston Family Resource Center for Disabilities and Special Needs, stated that for individuals with autism, typical fitness classes may be stressful and overwhelming. The smells and loud sounds of a gym can be quite difficult to tolerate, thus leading to sensory overload. “For a lot of kids on the spectrum, there aren’t as many opportunities to access fitness,” said Riddle. Her own son, now 19, took part in the Piece It Together program. Participants meet once a week for a wide range of fitness classes, including yoga, swimming, and more. Each instructor is trained to adapt to a class, helping young adults to improve their fitness skills, as well as allowing them to develop their nutritional skills.
Specific population groups, such as young adults on the autism spectrum, are unique because a majority of young adults do not seem to have a lot of the support that younger kids have in the school system. “Once they leave school there aren’t really services out there that are appropriate for them. They’re left trying to find jobs. But what our system offers isn’t tailored to meet the needs of people with autism,” said Kim Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Autism Society. She stressed that she has yet to see a program quite as effective as Piece It Together.