Disability Youth Overview Part 3

This is the third in the series on youth disabilities. This month we will focus on motor skill disabilities.

Motor Skills
Children with motor skills disabilities often have another disability. They move slowly and have a hard time controlling their muscles. Some children suffer from lack of ability with large motor movements such as running, jumping, kicking and throwing, and catching, and others with small motor movements such as using their hands and fingers. Teachers and trainers must work together with an adaptive physical educator to find simplified ways to teach fitness skills. It is helpful to teach academic and physical skills by breaking the tasks down into small parts. Fine motor skills that should be integrated into academic and fitness activities include kneading with dough, working with modeling clay, using whole punchers, cutting with scissors, and writing in sand or shaving cream. Painting with a bucket of water on a chalkboard or driveway and writing words on a chalkboard or sidewalk are good activities to include in fine motor coordination. An occupational and physical therapist is helpful in the gym, classroom, and home.

Disability Youth Overview Part 2

Last month we talked about working with children with physical disabilities.

We will continue the discussion of physical impairments with visual, hearing and speech and language impairments.
Visual Impairments
A visual impairment is more than someone who wears eyes glasses. Their visual acuity is 20/70 or less, and they will struggle with vision, even when using a corrective prescription. A trainer or teacher may assist the student by using verbal directions and by asking the student for how the student learns best. Because of their limited vision, the student often has poor motor skills and displays easy fatigue. Ask them how they would feel comfortable being guided. Give students mental pictures and descriptive words. Simplifying the game or skill is also effective.  Also, give a mental picture of the environment and have a student helper that can stay with the participant as they participate in the activity.  If the child is partially sighted use reflective tape for visual guidance.

9 Tips to Boost Your Confidence as an Instructor

1. Study with the best.  Great instructors remain students at heart and never lose the desire to learn from the best.  Develop relationships with mentors and keep up with your continuing education.  Do workshops that dive deeper into a particular focus.  Take fitness classes outside your niche to open your mind to different cues, stretches, and movement patterns.

2. Work on your voice.  Vocal energy has a huge impact on your leadership role when teaching a class (or training one-on-one.)  Think of people you greatly admire.  Chances are they have great voices.  At the very least make sure people can understand and hear you.  Consider a local voice class as part of your continuing education or check out YouTube for vocal exercises to increase your range and protect your voice. 

5-Week Strategy: Transitioning Into Spring Running

Spring is here! You are probably excited to get outside and run.  You may have a 5K or 10K race this spring that looks interesting to you and you are anxious to get ready for it and to do well. Depending on what you have been doing this winter, you need to be careful transitioning to spring running to avoid injury. Here are some guidelines:

If you have been running indoors all winter: 

If you live in a climate like Chicago, you have likely spent the winter running on a treadmill or track.  In this case, you need to transition carefully to running outdoors.  The running surfaces and conditions outdoors are much different in terms of their impact on your body.  To avoid injury, don’t suddenly start running outdoors.  Instead, follow this strategy:

Yoga For Special Needs

Teaching yoga for special needs can be a rewarding experience. But I have found that each class is as unique as the population you are teaching.  Here are some great tips to use as you work for any fitness class with individuals with special needs.

First of all, I knew that I needed to be aware of the class I was teaching.  One season it was filled with Special Olympics clients so I needed to do stretches and strengthening for the various sports. Another had a heavy autistic population so I knew I needed to have students do yoga games with the purpose of teaching social skills and interacting with one another. Another season it was stress relief since many of my participants suffered from anxiety and fear.   I would always start class with an introduction of the class, a brief answer and question session about each person’s week, and sometimes things we were grateful for.

The Role of Exercise in Stress Management

Life can be a constant challenge full of daily hurdles. Everyone has their own struggles. No one is immune from stress. While some stresses can actually lead to positive action, stress can be an absolute killer to us physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s very easy to not want to move or exercise when feeling this constant negative tension. However, this is exactly what we must all do to reverse the adverse effects of stress: exercise. And, as fitness professionals, it’s vital to teach and provide proper guidance to our clients to move even when not with us. So, what’s the proper vernacular that the fitness professional should reiterate to their clients about stress and exercise? Moreover, how does the fitness professional inspire their clients to move especially when not in their company?  How does the need become greater than the want?

The Body Survival Kit

Have you ever stopped to notice how many things disconnect us on a daily basis from earth? As the rate of technology and lack of inner connection to our body, mind, and soul is rapidly increasing, we are seeing an incredible rate of illnesses, diseases, and injuries. Holistic training focuses on bringing your body, mind, and soul into alignment with yourself and nature in order to improve your: health, well-being, and give you the best looking natural corpse your body was designed to look like while feeling amazing. Here are three simple easy to do steps to get started.

Beginning Sports Program for Preschoolers

It is a challenge to prepare for a preschool fitness program with young children.  Parents have various expectations that are realistic to have fun but unrealistic thinking that this one class will prepare them for a particular sport or skill.  However, I have found that even a hectic program for preschool students with special needs and their siblings can be effective if the following protocols are followed. 
Preparation:  Trainers or teachers need to have all the equipment ready.  That means that the teachers need to get to the program early and make sure you are prepared for all the activities.  Having a skeleton plan is helpful, not only for you but also all of your staff that works for you.  I typically have a lanyard with a list of activities but I also explain that I may or may not go in that particular order of activities. 

Headaches, Migraines, and Other Pains in the Head

Headaches are unpleasant pains in your head that can cause pressure and aches. They can range from mild to severe pain and usually occur on both sides of your head. Some specific areas where headaches can occur include the forehead, temples, and back of the neck. A headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week. Tension headaches aren’t the only type of headaches that occur. Other headache types include: Cluster headaches are severely painful headaches that occur on one side of the head and come in clusters.

This means you experience cycles of headache attacks, followed by headache-free periods. Often confused with migraines, sinus headaches co-occur with sinus infection symptoms such as fever, stuffy nose, cough, congestion, and facial pressure. These headaches are intense or severe and often have accompanying symptoms in addition to head pain. Symptoms associated with a migraine headache include nausea, pain behind one eye or ear, pain in the temples, seeing spots or flashing lights, sensitivity to light and/or sound, temporary vision loss, and vomiting. A migraine headache will cause intense pain that may be throbbing and will make performing daily tasks very difficult.

12 Tips for Taper and Marathon Time

After a season of 12-32 weeks for a marathon, the last three weeks are geared toward tapering.  Initially, it is a relief knowing that the hard work you have gained through training is coming to an end. But also with it comes a new frustration knowing and not knowing how it will not only affect your body but also your mind.

After your final last long run, it is time to rest for your marathon.  It is perfectly normal to start to feel the aches and pains from muscles healing as you lessen your intensity, running miles after miles.  Feeling down and achy is also normal as your body adjusts to changes from training intensely.

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