What are the contraindications/suggestions for training autistic and mentally retarded (high function) clients?
I have been asked by a father to train his highly functioning mentally retarded daughter and his autistic son. He will be at the gym during the sessions, but I'm still a bit nervous as I'm not sure if this is in my scope of practice as a personal trainer and unsure of any contraindications. Any tips would be great!
I have been training a client with Asperger's syndrome for many years, and I speak from the background of this experience.
To begin, let me say that the label 'retarded' or 'autistic' has really no meaning in itself. However, you may be faced with peculiarities that are beyond what is considered 'normal' (whatever that may be). You can ask the father to appraise you of any differences so that you can anticipate and avoid problems, if possible. I am thinking of anxieties caused by some phobias. You also need to know whether your new clients are on medications and what their probable side effects may be. I am making assumptions here but you may be faced with obese individuals who have risk factors because of that. Personally, I would get a medical release in any event.
After that, you assess as you would all clients, obtain medical history and all the rest of it and proceed as you would in other circumstances. The fact that the father will be present is of help.
As far as contraindications are concerned, I would not know of any based on their different level of functioning. If there are any, it would be because of other problems, be it musculoskeletal or cardiovascular in the widest sense. those should be indicated on the physician's approval.
Whether it is within your scope of practice, I do not know. Your certification should specify which population you are qualified to train. Personally, I would not let the different level of mental functioning be my guide but only any other issue that may exist.
I wish you the best of luck with your clients.
These people might need more specialized care than the average client, so some extra investigating would really help. I'd say contraindications would refer to what you would already apply to high mentally functioning people as well- past injuries, surgeries etc.
As long as your clients have been cleared by their doctor to participate in an exercise program, you should be allowed to train them. There should be no contraindications if you are just training them since you are not performing any sort of rehabilitation. If the father is wanting you to train them, I think it is safe to assume that they don’t have any significant physical limitations. Once you have obtained their medical histories and completed your assessments, it should be business as usual, but possibly with a few more challenges.
You will want to be aware of different types, and the amount, of instruction that you need to give. For example, are they visual learners, do they do well with simple verbal cues, or do they need extensive, repeated instructions? You will want to be aware of how the two individuals respond to various social interactions and how they each respond to physical contact, as you may be required to physically correct their form. It is a good idea to discuss with their father any behaviors that may be presented in different situations and what triggers those behaviors. Also, it is important to know their frustration tolerance.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Good luck!