Autism Fitness™

Autism Fitness™ was founded by Eric Chessen. M.S. to develop fitness programs that were appropriate and progressive for individuals with autism. All available research, clinical, & anecdotal evidence supports physical fitness being essential for the development of optimal independence, health, and quality of life. Eric Chessen.

Activities Daily Living (ADL) and other complex activities require body movement and cognitive thinking and foundational skills like strength, stability, and motor planning are essential. As Physical therapy and Occupational therapy are required an Adaptive PE is also crucial. Also, Adaptive PE is often sport-based rather than movement based protocol. Many times such programs are missing component and AutismFitness can help to fill this gap. Eric Chessen developed the PAC Profile that addressed the 3 essential areas of ability for each individual -area of functioning; Physical, Adaptive, and Cognitive.

PAC Profile.

Understanding of fundamental movement skills, assessing individuals with autism. for the purposes of a fitness or APE program (PAC Profile), and strategies (from several best practices approaches) for developing and implementing fitness programs with individuals or groups on the autism spectrum .

Using the PAC Profile™ as a foundation, the Autism Fitness™ method can be applied in various environments including gyms, schools/Adapted PE settings, recreation centers, therapeutic facilities, and in homes

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Brain Development

Primitive Reflexes – Behaviors and Learning

Primitive reflexes work as a symphony of reflexes that makes its presence known in a multitude of ways. Our body functions using this in equally profound ways. Timing and order is a critical and important component in this symphony just like an orchestra. Each reflex has its own distinct timing and duration. Any disruption in a timing or order can affect the harmony. Similarly with retained reflex can throw off the harmony and timing of the human reflex symphony.

Retained Reflexes
Human biological system is dependent on the reflexes during its entire lifespan. Reflexes get assimilated into the nervous system and retained reflexes are those that fail to assimilate into the nervous system. Many factors like birth, diet,movement , toxic environmental factors can disrupt the neurological systems harmony and may be responsible for reflex retention. Which further can directly damage to the nervous system resulting in developmental delays.
Bodily Senses , systems and functions further gets disrupted due to disharmony is the nervous system.

What is a Reflex?
Reflex is a neurological arc to keep communication going in the nervous system. Integrated reflexes keeps the reflex arc in connection and keeps communication going to meet the nervous system’s requests. Mother Nature has created this system for our survival during and to orchestrate the development of our nervous system. Eventually they step back and wait until they are needed for a quick response. Incomplete of weak connection in the reflex arc is a state of reflex unintegrated ,active or retained. Constant reflex play further disrupts communication coming into the brainstorm and blocks executing functional pathways of the brain .
Several reflexes play a key role in allowing the fetus to go through the birth process,making it possible for one of the more miraculous movements in the symphony to unfold.
Examples of reflexes and brain development

Moro reflex : produces cortisol and adrenaline to help activate the birth process
ATNR: comes into play , acting much like a corkscrew as it causes the first rotation as the fetid initiates the journey down the birth canal
Bauer crawling, spinal Perez and spinal galant reflexes orchestrate the further movements that are necessary for the birth to progress.
Moro reflex: triggers her first breath and prompts the infant to straighten out after months in the womb.

Creation of the reflex symphony happens mostly in the womb and this play is far from over once the baby is born.  After that participating reflexes become more evident.
As these various reflexes emerge during the first weeks and months of life, some reflexes are integrated , as new ones take their place.
Reflexes do the job of emerging and contributing to myriad aspects of brain development and then integrate into the system.  Integration represents a complete neurological connection that works in concert with the nervous system.
Unintegrated reflexes can obstruct the child’s development in countless ways.

Reflexes : Causes and consequences

As Autism ,ADHD and learning disabilities are new growing epidemic they have
increased  awareness need of reflex integration.
Unintegrated reflexes keeps the reflex symphony in  state of disharmony which can persist indefinitely.

Causes of unintegrated reflexes
Mothers emotional and mental stress during pregnancy
Diet and general health of the mother during pregnancy.
Traumatic birth events , c section births

Unintegrated reflex system puts the individual in a fight and flight mode constantly.  Resulting in a lifelong pattern of stressed behaviour as a default response. The individuals emotional stresses the mind, body spirit which can make him/her feel hopeless to cope with an unintegrated reflex system.  When several unintegrated reflexes persist, normal tasks that we take for granted become difficult to impossible.  Early reflexes serve a dual purpose
First for survival by supplying the infant with the necessary responses and then second to fold themselves back into the system.
The system forms the vital neurological connections that underscore every thought we think , each movement we make and our behaviors. Symphonic soundtrack formed by the reflex system makes us conscious about us (who we are and what to do).
If a reflex fails to integrate (and therefore doesn’t assimilate in the nervous system) then the ability to choose One’s thoughts , actions and behaviors is compromised.  All the reactions are automatic without contemplating the reaction or consequences. This explains the aggressive or other behaviors of an individual with Autism.  Reflex system study indicates these behaviors are all reflexive until they mature enough the brain higher cerebral cortex area starts taking control.
Which further increases the movement,,
Cognition and behaviors to develop in a more comprehensive manner.
A matured reflex system provides a sound foundation for the nervous system beginning at conception. Throughout life reflexes, should continue to support and respond only as needed.

Natalie Udwin, MSOT, OTR/L Sprocket Therapy Solutions, LLC 2015

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