Thursday, November 20, 2008

Muscle tone and Autism

I have a bunch of 11-12 year old boys with poor tone and goofy attitudes. How in the world do I get them to focus on doing exercises to help firm up muscles? They need those firm muscles for simple functional activities like lifting arms to wash their hair.

A new product showed up in my office a few months ago called Core:Tx. It's a computer-game based exrecise program with a strap-on wireless sensor that detects movement. The "player" has to perform an exercise (like leg squats) and match the speed and range shown on the computer monitor. The game encourages smooth movement along a full range of motion. It's cute, and it catches the attention of a 12 year old boy.

That said, using Core:Tx with a boy with autism is a daunting prospect. It's hard enough to engage children with autism without the additional burden of strapping on a monitor, teaching a "game", demonstrating exercises and getting compliance. As it turns out, I had recently done a program of Interactive Metronome (IM) with one particular lad, and so he was ripe to try this. IM alone did not give him the functional gains he needed. Core:Tx was just the right level of work and play to pull off a successful intervention. And it worked very quickly, too. I'm very pleased with the results. See the next entry for the story.

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