If you’re part of the autism community, you might have heard about the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate and have wondered about the process of working towards getting accredited.

Scientific research and studies have helped experts understand and address many autism-related barriers to participation in physical activity—but that understanding doesn’t help much if you don’t also understand how aversions can affect people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Asking someone with this diagnosis to thrive in an exercise-friendly setting that’s often active, loud, social, and unpredictable can be will likely be unsuccessful until proper supports are in place.

Someone with an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate can empower people diagnosed with ASD to find ways to successfully develop a healthy and active lifestyle. Searching for how to get the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate? Reach out to Exercise Connection today by calling 773.575.5100 or contacting our team online.

What Is the Connection Between Autism and Exercise?

Physical activity programs for people diagnosed with ASD—children, in particular—have resulted in moderate to significant benefits, such as the following:

  • Improved fitness – Children diagnosed with ASD significantly improve their muscular strength and endurance by participating in physical activity programs such as aquatic exercise and horseback riding. This is particularly important as studies also show that people diagnosed with ASD tend to have poorer muscular strength and endurance than is typical for their age.
  • Improved motor skills – Many types of physical activity programs—and the social opportunities they come with—require fundamental motor skills. These basic skills include catching, running, throwing, and so on. Because physical activity programs designed for children diagnosed with ASD are generally more fun and safe for their participants, they also serve as a supportive atmosphere for significant improvement in motor skills.
  • Improved skill-related fitness – As with muscular strength and endurance, many people diagnosed with ASD may also have poorer fitness skills than is typical for their age. These skills include visual-motor control, balance, body coordination, and other mobility skills. Physical activity programs that help improve these skills include, but are not limited to, horseback riding, jumping on a trampoline, and table tennis.
  • Improved social skills – When participating in physical activity programs designed for them, people diagnosed with ASD showed significant gains in their communication and social skills. These fun and safe physical activities include horseback riding, group play, jogging, and running.

Further evidence supports just 10-minutes of low-to-moderate exercise produces benefits for those on the autism spectrum, including reductions in stereotypic behavior. While we do not aim to replace or decrease stereotypic behavior, it is important to focus on the role exercise can play in enhancing self-regulation for people diagnosed with ASD.

What Is the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate?

The Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate is offered by ACSM and Exercise Connection. The holders of this certificate are exercise professionals, recreational therapists, physical or adapted physical education teachers, physical therapists, or special education professionals. They understand the needs and evidence-based strategies used to support people diagnosed with ASD when implementing a physical activity program in a gym, home, or classroom setting.

The Autism Exercise Specialist continuing education course (CEC) is the prerequisite to receiving the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate. The CEC involves completing online modules, which establish the foundational framework of understanding ASD, related evidence-based teaching practices, and exercise program design. These modules help prepare potential certificate holders to successfully instruct those diagnosed with ASD.

Once someone receives the Certificate of Completion for the Autism Exercise Specialist CEC, they’re qualified to take the in-person workshop required to obtain the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate.

An Autism Exercise Specialist will be able to:

  • Communicate to parents of children diagnosed with ASD, special educators, and other professionals about the value of exercise for the autism community
  • Create a positive exercise experience and enhance the social skills of participants
  • Develop exercise programs and demonstrate exercises by applying evidence-based teaching strategies for those diagnosed with ASD
  • Lead and motivate people in both a one-on-one and group settings
  • Use standard health assessment tools—and when available, school-based or private assessments—to develop the foundation of a customized exercise program
  • Use various instructional strategies—such as visual supports, videos, and other technology—to promote physical activity

When Should You Consider the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate Process of Exercise Connection?

In partnership with ACSM, Exercise Connection has created the process of earning this certificate. Exercise Connection’s Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate process aims to educate and empower professionals to successfully teach inclusive exercise to those diagnosed with ASD and other similar disabilities.

If you’re a professional that often services with people diagnosed with ASD and you’re interested in creating and leading exercise programs, you should consider working towards earning this certificate. Equipped with evidence-based practices and an understanding of how to support different learning styles will help you become a better and more successful exercise professional, particularly if you have many clients diagnosed with ASD.

The Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate can help you transform lives as your clients make the exercise connection.

Ready To Learn More About Exercise Connection’s Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate Process?

If you’re looking for how to get the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate, contact Exercise Connection today. Reach out to our team online or call 773.575.5100.