Raise the Bar and You’ll Go Far!
This Family Services blog, is written by Mary Carol Grabill. She is a mother of three, including an 11-year-old boy, Tommy, who has autism.
The first time I was exposed to Right Fit and Suzanne Gray, was during a summer camp for children with autism that my son Tommy attended. Part of the camp’s day was spent with Suzanne and the Right Fit staff, doing exercises that focused on different aspects of movement, body awareness, social skills, and much more. Right Fit’s “Raise the Bar” program uses physical fitness as a therapeutic tool to motivate, educate, and reinforce positive behavior in youths with autism.
I immediately witnessed how good Suzanne was with Tommy. She has so much positive energy, never tires, and is always working on a new project to benefit the lives of children and adults touched by autism. I asked her if she could work one on one with Tommy and that is how we got started with Right Fit.
On our first day, when I walked Tommy into her facility, I was nervous about Tommy’s first session. I assumed it would end early, due to Tommy’s unpredictable behavior, so I thought I would stick around. To my surprise, Suzanne suggested, “Why don’t you go grab a cup of coffee or something, Tommy will be fine here.” “What?!!!” I thought. “Leave Tommy alone?” I’m glad I did.
It’s amazing what kids can do when Mom is not around. While I was gone, Suzanne had complete control of Tommy, who can be quite the manipulator. But here is the difference: he wants to be at Right Fit. I decided then and there, this was a place where Tommy could thrive and call his own.
Tommy currently works out in Right Fit’s Raise the Bar program four times per week, in one-on-one and group settings. As a result of his participation in Raise the Bar, we have been able to take Tommy off the medication he took during the previous several years. He is physically fit and his self-stimulating behavior has decreased significantly. I firmly believe that exercise, and I mean a lot of exercise, has had a major impact on my son’s demeanor.
Everyday after school Tommy says, “I want to go to Right Fit.” I understand why: it is filled with good, honest, funny, caring, enthusiastic and hard working people. They are always positive, and if Tommy comes in stressed from school, which is typical, they want to know about it and provide an avenue for him to release his stress.
I don’t know what my family would do without Right Fit. Suzanne Gray and her entire staff are excellent. They all respect my son and that is one of the reasons he responds so well to Raise the Bar!
Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, select Find a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.