Frequently Asked Questions

What is adaptive fitness?

Adaptive fitness is a type of fitness training that is modified to accommodate those with mental, physical, or cognitive challenges.  The adaptive fitness training program may include doing exercises or using special equipment that allows the individual to perform the exercises in a nontraditional, but safe manner.  By safely adapting the movement to the individual's needs, the individual can perform exercises that they might not have been able to do otherwise because of their disability or challenges. 

How do you handle and calm autism meltdowns?

Meltdowns are a part of life for individuals with autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders, among others. Unlike tantrums, meltdowns are caused by over- or under-stimulation (among other things) and are not signs of bad behavior. There are many ways to handle and calm meltdowns, whether in public or private.

The most important thing is to make your child feel safe and loved by being empathetic. Focus on what they need. Listen and acknowledge their struggles. Avoid punishing them, especially in public.

If you’re prepared, you can offer calming sensory tools such as fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphones, chewy snacks, or hand wipes. Remember to remain calm yourself and use a quiet voice to speak to them. Once they’ve calmed down, then you can teach your child some coping strategies (like breathing exercises, grounding, redirection, etc.) to avoid meltdowns in the future.

How do diet and nutrition affect autism?

Studies show that diet and nutrition affect autism. Certain foods impact mood, cognitive behavior, and information processing. Children with ASD are 5x more likely to suffer from feeding problems like tantrums, refusal, and pickiness. They're also likely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies, especially in calcium and protein. Calcium is crucial for the development of strong bones. Protein, on the other hand, is very important for mental development, muscle buildup, and physical growth.

Research has shown that a few dietary changes can successfully offer relief in ASD symptoms. In this case, children with autism should be given a gluten-free (wheat protein) and casein-free (milk) diet. This helps avoid gut inflammation, which is responsible for producing important neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These are critical components that affect mood, concentration, reward and motivation. When the gut becomes inflamed, it can cause physiological stress. It can also result in emotional meltdowns, especially among kids with autism.

What is the best diet for a child with autism?

The best diet for a child with autism is a gluten-free and casein-free diet. Casein is mostly found in dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Sugary and processed foods must also be avoided. Instead, give your child a diet rich in whole foods such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also include beef, seeds, and nuts, which are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The same goes with fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.

What vitamins are beneficial for children with autism?

Several studies show that children with autism benefited from a vitamin regimen of magnesium and vitamin B6. Other helpful vitamins and minerals include vitamins A, C, and D as well as omega-3 fatty acids and folate.

What are good activities for children with autism?

Since children with autism have sensory issues, activities that involve sensory integration are best.

Here are some sensory activities to try:

  • coin rubbing
  • making edible jewelry
  • ice painting
  • smelling or matching games
  • walking
  • running
  • bouncing or jumping on a trampoline
  • swimming

The key is to discover the kind of sensory activities that your child with ASD prefers.  At Special Strong, we perform various sensory exercises with our clients with sensory issues.

What is sensory integration?

Sensory integration is a type of therapy that aims to help kids with sensory issues process information. This type of therapy uses their senses to participate in day-to-day activities. This allows a child with ASD to respond appropriately to sounds, smells, touch, light, and other environmental input. Hence, sensory integration helps children with ASD to make sense of the world around them.

What is sensory play?

Sensory play is simply any activity that stimulates a child’s sense of touch, taste, hearing, smell, or sight.

What are sensory toys?

Sensory toys are designed to help children develop the use of their five senses in their natural environment by means of playing.

These are just some sensory toys that are great for those with autism:

  • fidget toys like a spinner or fidget tubes
  • chew toys or necklaces
  • sensory mats
  • slime
  • putty or sand
  • squishy, bumpy, or other sensory balls
  • bristle blocks

What is a sensory diet?

A sensory diet may sound like it has to do with nutrition, but actually has nothing to do with food. A sensory diet is a set of activities that you schedule to help improve your child’s adaptive responses and attention. This type of activity helps your kid with ASD to learn and behave better, and to remain alert and calm. A sensory diet will look different for each child and will depend on each child’s personal sensory needs and preferences. A sensory-seeking child may need swinging included in their sensory diet, whereas a sensory-avoiding child may require time spent under a weighted blanket with noise-reducing headphones. Sensory diets can be adapted to fit each child’s needs.

How can you help a child with sensory processing disorder?

  1. Provide a quiet space for your child.
  2. Give them earplugs or a noise-cancelling headset if they are sensitive to loud noises.
  3. Let your child use a fidget toy.
  4. Tell them ahead of time that you’ll be changing their routine; try to avoid surprises.
  5. Keep your child away from buzzing lights or any other thing that might distract or distress them.
  6. Most of all, learn about the child’s specific sensory needs and sensitivities. If you can know what’s bothering them (noises, textures, foods, clothing tags, lights, etc.) you have a better chance of avoiding triggers and improving their environment.

How can essential oils benefit those with cerebral palsy?

Essential oils are known for their calming and neuroprotective properties. Diffusing lavender oil helps release muscle tension, which is helpful for those with cerebral palsy. Peppermint oil is another essential oil that can help soothe the pain and calm the nerves when massaged directly into the skin. It also helps improve memory function and concentration.

Does exercise improve focus?

Exercise is one of the best and most effective ways to improve focus. It also improves concentration, mood, and motivation. Studies show that exercise improves memory and boosts the brain’s production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. All are known neurotransmitters that aid in focus, memory, and attention.

Why should you hire a personal trainer?

A personal trainer can improve your execution of exercise routines, compared to performing them on your own. A personal trainer will help you get the most out of each exercise activity. A knowledgeable trainer can also help reduce your risk of contracting an injury while exercising. They can also give you advice on proper nutrition and diet, and help you move with more intention towards your goals.

Does exercise make MS symptoms worse?

Aggressive exercise routines can worsen and exacerbate symptoms for people with multiple sclerosis. However, a gentler approach to regular aerobic exercise offers a lot of benefits for people who have MS.

Proper exercise can:

  • reduce fatigue
  • improve balance
  • increase strength
  • decrease spasticity
  • improve bladder and bowel control

Further studies also show that resistance training helps slow down the progression of MS in certain individuals.

What is the best exercise for those with Parkinson's?

People with Parkinson’s disease can benefit from doing several exercises to target their motor symptoms.  For balance problems, yoga and tai chi are recommended. Dancing and boxing are two exercises that can improve agility, balance, and coordination. Aerobic exercises like biking and running are also recommended.

For people in early stages of Parkinson’s, high-intensity exercise can also be done to slow down the progression of Parkinson's. Before starting an exercise program, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

What is the best exercise machine for bad knees?

The best exercise machine for bad knees is the elliptical. Compared to a treadmill, the elliptical machine is much gentler on the knee joints. It's the perfect exercise option for those who usually develop shin splits when exercising, or experience knee discomfort.

What is the best exercise to improve circulation?

Brisk walking and jogging are two of the best exercises to improve circulation. In addition, jogging is also helpful in building up cardiovascular endurance.

How can you improve poor posture and prevent rounded shoulders?

Rounded shoulders are usually caused by poor posture. To improve your posture and straighten rounded shoulders, do exercises that focus on strengthening the core and the muscles of the chest and upper back. One of the best examples of this type of exercise is planking. Other forms of exercise include stretches like the handclasp, door chest stretches or the shoulder blade squeeze.

Can you correct scoliosis with exercise and stretching?

Yes. Stretching and other similar exercises can help ‘correct’ scoliosis. In fact, doctors recommend stretching exercises for people with scoliosis. You can do arm and leg raises, pelvic tilts, and abdominal press to name a few. Practicing good posture is also helpful to relieve back pain.

How can you teach social skills to a child with autism?

There are many ways you can teach social skills to a child with autism. But the best way to do it is to model the skills you want them to learn. Afterwards, reinforce their learning by praising them for doing well.

Read more: Top 10 Social Skills Activities To Teach Your Child With Autism

How can you improve social skills for those with autism?

Here are some things you can do to help improve social skills in children with autism:

  1. Model the desired behaviors you want to see.
  2. Educate and help your child practice appropriate behaviors.
  3. Reinforce positive behavior by means of praise and positive encouragement.
  4. Use social scenarios and implement a sensory diet.
  5. Enhance the communication between you and your child.