Ask The Expert: What Challenges Make it More Difficult for Children with Autism to Stay Fit?


Children with disabilities and special health care needs are more likely to be overweight or obese. Louise Weadock, founder of sensory gym WeeZee, World of "Yes I Can," discusses fitness obstacles for children with special needs and the physical and social benefits of sensory integration. 

Q - According to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, children with disabilities and special health care needs are more likely to be overweight or obese than their typically developing peers. Can you explain what challenges exist that makes it more difficult for children with autism to maintain a fitness routine?

A-  Kids on the autism spectrum have capable central nervous systems. The way children get fit is by improving their central nervous system, but they [children with autism] perceive their world in a completely different way, making it more of a challenge. There are differences between hypo and hyper [sensitive] kids. At WeeZee, we channel the energy to exhaust the hyper children out and encourage activity in the hypo children. 

Socially, kids with sensory challenges often miscue and often sit on the side of the curb and don't participate in physical activity because of social fear. 

At home, kids are often fed easy snacks which are full of sugar and sit in front of the television in order to self-soothe. These factors leads to a sedentary lifestyle. 


Q - How can sensory integration activities help my child develop self-confidence?

A- We guarantee three things: [Kids will] improve academic performance, improve athletic coordination, and improve social skills. At WeeZee, we have sensory coaches who challenge and encourage the kids. They encourage kids with so many activities, like staying on our surfboard, learning and knowing their phone number, and many others. The activities at WeeZee look so appealing that some kids just take it all in on their first visit. When they come back the next time, they think "what am I going to do next?" All of the [sensory integration] activities help reading skills, math, and adaptability. With these activities, all of the kids lose weight, and get stronger. They're able to take information can sort it with more confidence so they can retrieve it and apply it faster in the future. 

WeeZee World of "Yes I Can!", located at 480 Bedford Road in Chappaqua, is a health club and sensory gym where activities are open to all abilities and ages. WeeZee incorporate elements of sensory fitness and science for optimal results in all who attend. Louise Weadock is now expanding her sensory gyms internationally to Kuwait. For more information, call 914-752-2100, or visit the website.