Thursday, March 17, 2011

Triumphant return

Ben returned ecstatic from another training session tonight. He spent more time on the treadmill and used new equipment. D'Arcy said Ben really enjoyed it and felt a sense of accomplishment.

This is quite a contrast from the 50 per cent Ben received in physed on his last report card. I couldn't understand why he scored "good" in most of the related items (e.g. work habits) but did so poorly if the program is adapted to his disabilities (unless he refuses to participate).

I heard an interesting interview on CBC radio today about researchers who have developed exercise guidelines for people with spinal-cord injuries. This is a related CBC The National broadcast.

Queen's University researcher Amy Latimer followed 700 Ontarians with spinal-cord injuries for 18 months and found that over half reported no recreational physical activity at all.

"This is often more to do with the nature of the barriers people with spinal-cord injuries face in trying to exercise, rather than because of the nature of the injury," Latimer says, noting that many gyms don't provide accessible fitness equipment.

Next steps for Latimer's team are to look at exercise best practices for people with multiple sclerosis.

These guidelines are exciting, but we need accessible gyms and attitudes to go with them!

A couple of months ago I spoke to Holland Bloorview researchers about partnering with a fitness club to develop exercise programs for children with disabilities. We plan to brainstorm this idea.

I thought GoodLife, where Ben is a member, was a perfect fit because CEO David Patchell-Evans has a daughter with autism and has donated $4 million to autism research. But I heard from GoodLife that they thought the investment in equipment would be too high.

With new exercise guidelines for adults with disabilities, and with parents of children with disabilities eager to get their kids active, I believe an untapped market waits.


What a fantastic idea -- coupling gyms with children with disabilities. There are a couple of groups here in southern CA that use world-renowned gymanstics gyms for their programs, primarily for autistic kids, but they're prohibitively expensive and what was once covered by Regional Centers is no longer.

I agree. This is a great idea!

Ben looks so happy.

I question much of what is told to us via the resource teacher, EA, IEP report/results, and his teacher when it comes to Gabriel and his ability. And this includes their assessments of his physical abilities. Plain and simple, my son is different from what they say and think about him when he's at home or doing something with the family outside of school. It's disheartening sometimes because school takes up SO much of his life and it will for years to come.

I think many of our kids thrive when they're recognized for "doing" -- being in the moment -- instead of being told what to do and how to do it.

I wish there were more facilities open to kids with special needs and their parents, working out together.

I posted a while back about a gym that opened in Israel that has fully accessible equipment to accomodate a number of disabilities. I can't understand why the idea hasn't taken off here, given the intense media focus on fitness.

And yes Lianna -- too often there is a disconnect between what we see and know about our kids, and what we're "told" about them at school.

Just to other readers who are in the south east part of Toronto (near the Scarborough Bluffs, Variety Village has a 76,000 square foot gym with a range of equipment and programs for different abilities and is fully integrated. I remember Variety Village being a place for people who have special needs a long time ago, but now they seem to emphasize the fact that it is for anyone with all abilities.

That's a wonderful idea. I remember reading once about a man who was blind at the gym with his guide dog running on a treadmill next to him. I wish all gyms were so inclusive. Including obtaining equipment for persons with special needs.