ACSM Releases Call to Action During National Autism Awareness Month
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ACSM Releases Call to Action During National Autism Awareness Month

Apr 11, 2022

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is the world’s fastest-growing developmental disability, affecting 1 in 44 children in the United States alone. Fortunately, exercise provides many benefits for those with autism, including improvements to quality of life and management of stereotypical behaviors like verbal repetition and hand-flapping. In fact, parents rate exercise as the No. 1 intervention for these behaviors. 

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and the American College of Sports Medicine® (ACSM) is calling on school officials, parents and exercise professionals to provide beneficial exercise programming to students with autism. 

“The impact of exercise for those with autism is often misunderstood,” says David Geslak, ACSM-EP, CSCS, president and founder of the autism and inclusive exercise organization Exercise Connection. “It is shown to have an impact beyond the health-related benefits. Exercise is vital to a person with autism’s physical and cognitive development, and it needs to be part of their lifestyle. ACSM and I want professionals to be prepared with evidence-based teaching practices so they use exercise to empower those with autism to reach their full potential.” 

In fact, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), U.S. law mandates physical education for students with disabilities. School officials should commit to providing physical education for all students during the school day, including the proper environment and programming for the growing number of students with autism. 

Parents should likewise be aware of these legal requirements. If a school isn’t setting aside appropriate exercise time and resources, parents should meet with administrators and remind them of their responsibility to provide adequate exercise opportunities. 

Parents should also consider reaching out to an exercise professional who holds an autism-specific exercise certification, such as the ACSM Autism Exercise Specialist certificate. Certificate-holders have completed condition-tailored training beyond the rigorous standards of conventional ACSM certifications, focusing on autism and its relationship to exercise programming, safety and benefits. 

Exercise professionals who have not yet completed an autism-specific credential should consider pursuing the ACSM Autism Exercise Specialist or similar certification. People with autism may have needs beyond those of the typical client, and taking the time to earn this certification will not only provide exercise professionals with useful information but also demonstrate their qualifications to parents and clients with autism. 

The benefits of exercise for those with autism are clear. Geslak recalls a statement made to him by one of his clients’ parents:  

“For my son Brody, exercise provided a backdrop to age-appropriate regulation, communication, a release from stress, and weight loss. It crosses back and forth from school to home, allowing him to feel superior in one particular setting when most times he feels out of the loop or disconnected. And now in gym class, he rises to the occasion.” 

It’s important to remember that the term “autism” represents a suite of presentations and behaviors, and no two individuals with autism are alike. Similarly, different people may prefer different terminology: Despite a contemporary push toward using people-first language when describing developmental conditions, some with autism embrace and take pride in the term “autistics” as a group identifier. Though Autism Awareness Month highlights ASD as a whole, it is important to always consider the unique characteristics, needs and desires of the individual, something certified exercise specialists are particularly qualified to do. 

This month, let’s recommit ourselves to those with autism. With the combined efforts of parents, exercise specialists and education officials, the growing number of students with autism must be able to access condition-specific exercise, improving their day-to-day experience and helping them manage behaviors that may get in the way of learning and thriving. 

ACSM Releases Call to Action During National Autism Awareness Month

Apr 11, 2022

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is the world’s fastest-growing developmental disability, affecting 1 in 44 children in the United States alone. Fortunately, exercise provides many benefits for those with autism, including improvements to quality of life and management of stereotypical behaviors like verbal repetition and hand-flapping. In fact, parents rate exercise as the No. 1 intervention for these behaviors. 

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and the American College of Sports Medicine® (ACSM) is calling on school officials, parents and exercise professionals to provide beneficial exercise programming to students with autism. 

“The impact of exercise for those with autism is often misunderstood,” says David Geslak, ACSM-EP, CSCS, president and founder of the autism and inclusive exercise organization Exercise Connection. “It is shown to have an impact beyond the health-related benefits. Exercise is vital to a person with autism’s physical and cognitive development, and it needs to be part of their lifestyle. ACSM and I want professionals to be prepared with evidence-based teaching practices so they use exercise to empower those with autism to reach their full potential.” 

In fact, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), U.S. law mandates physical education for students with disabilities. School officials should commit to providing physical education for all students during the school day, including the proper environment and programming for the growing number of students with autism. 

Parents should likewise be aware of these legal requirements. If a school isn’t setting aside appropriate exercise time and resources, parents should meet with administrators and remind them of their responsibility to provide adequate exercise opportunities. 

Parents should also consider reaching out to an exercise professional who holds an autism-specific exercise certification, such as the ACSM Autism Exercise Specialist certificate. Certificate-holders have completed condition-tailored training beyond the rigorous standards of conventional ACSM certifications, focusing on autism and its relationship to exercise programming, safety and benefits. 

Exercise professionals who have not yet completed an autism-specific credential should consider pursuing the ACSM Autism Exercise Specialist or similar certification. People with autism may have needs beyond those of the typical client, and taking the time to earn this certification will not only provide exercise professionals with useful information but also demonstrate their qualifications to parents and clients with autism. 

The benefits of exercise for those with autism are clear. Geslak recalls a statement made to him by one of his clients’ parents:  

“For my son Brody, exercise provided a backdrop to age-appropriate regulation, communication, a release from stress, and weight loss. It crosses back and forth from school to home, allowing him to feel superior in one particular setting when most times he feels out of the loop or disconnected. And now in gym class, he rises to the occasion.” 

It’s important to remember that the term “autism” represents a suite of presentations and behaviors, and no two individuals with autism are alike. Similarly, different people may prefer different terminology: Despite a contemporary push toward using people-first language when describing developmental conditions, some with autism embrace and take pride in the term “autistics” as a group identifier. Though Autism Awareness Month highlights ASD as a whole, it is important to always consider the unique characteristics, needs and desires of the individual, something certified exercise specialists are particularly qualified to do. 

This month, let’s recommit ourselves to those with autism. With the combined efforts of parents, exercise specialists and education officials, the growing number of students with autism must be able to access condition-specific exercise, improving their day-to-day experience and helping them manage behaviors that may get in the way of learning and thriving. 

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Congratulations to Dr. Carol Garber for her Citation Award at the National Meeting in Orlando!

About Us

gnyrcacsm

Our Mission

The Greater New York Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine has set goals to

1)  Promote and advance professions related to the science of exercise as medicine;

2)  Build relationships that foster growth and collaboration with other organizations, physicians, scientists, and educators concerned with the science of exercise and related fields;

3)  Arrange mutual meetings of physicians, educators, clinicians and scientists;

4)  Make available post-graduate education in fields related to these sciences;

5)  Initiate, promote and correlate research in these fields;

Membership

 Benefits
- Discounts to Chapter meetings and events
- News highlighting chapter events and news
- Opportunities to present at meetings, forums and events
- Access to student scholarship and award programs
- Opportunities to network with exercise science, sports medicine, clinical exercise, and allied health professionals
- Information regarding regional graduate programs, internships, and job opportunities
- Access to GNYRC-ACSM Podcasts featuring cutting edge presenters and topics

Chapter Leadership

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Galila Werber, PhD

Immediate Past President
Amerigo Rossi

Amerigo Rossi, EdD, FACSM

President
Andreas_Stamatis

Andreas Stamatis, PhD, EP-C, CSCS, FMSC

President-elect
Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud, MD

Secretary
Norberto Quiles

Norberto Quiles, EdD

Treasurer
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Neal Pire MA, EP-C, CSCS, FACSM

Executive Director