When he began my Moving Beyond the Spectrum fitness program at age six, Julian faced many challenges. His parents wanted him to learn to engage in reciprocal ball play and follow directions in sports. They hoped he could become able to balance on a scooter and a bike without falling. And, perhaps most of all, they wanted him to be able to interact and play with other children.
Besides his initial lack of physical coordination and body awareness (proprioception) Julian suffers from Hyperacusis, a hearing disorder that plagues some children on the autism spectrum. It makes it extremely hard to deal with everyday sounds. While other people may not even notice, certain sounds seem unbearably loud to Julian.
Unfamiliar Noise Added to the Challenges
My assessment of Julian included a posture, core and movement screening, using the balance beam, ball skills, hopping, jumping, running, crawling and coordinated movements. Completing a full assessment for Julian proved demanding and tiring for him. The new noises he was unfamiliar with and new surroundings created distraction after distraction. Moving at his pace to keep his attention focused was a contest of wits.
A year later, at seven years-old, Julian runs across the gym when he arrives, eager to exercise. He rides a tricycle with full command of his space; able to turn corners and follow straight lines. Julian can balance completely both on the stairs and on our imaginary balance beam. And he can catch a ball up to 15 times in a row.
Progress Dealing With Noise and Emotions
One of Julian’s biggest accomplishments in the past year is dealing better with his hyper-sensitive hearing. He understands that other people don’t hear many of the noises he hears. He could be distracted just by the sound of other kids having fun, or the air conditioning kicking in, or people chatting. With acceptance that has changed his life, Julian knows that the noises don’t have to prevent him from continuing a task.
He can now do running drills to cones of different colors, throw a ball to a target and not just to a recipient. While he couldn’t perform the coordinated movement of one jumping jack, he can now do up to four.
One of his major behaviors before and during his exercise program was to exclaim happiness by screeching or screaming. Julian has made extraordinary progress in the use of words to express his emotions. His parents call his progress remarkable.
At the end of each session, Julian is rewarded with final exercise of choice. Unimaginable a year ago, his choice is always running with as many as three or four other children.