Devereux
Leading National Behavioral Healthcare Provider

Call 1-800-345-1292


banner_2016_814.jpg

Tweet Share on LinkedIn Send email Print

What Olympic Athletes Can Teach Us About Autism

By Todd Harris

The Olympics are on the horizon and athletes from around the world are gearing up to go for gold in Rio. But it’s more than just the triumphant finishes or amazing feats that captivate the world, it’s also the incredible origin stories: the days, months and years that go into preparing for competition; the many challenges and failures on the path to success; and the tireless devotion of athletes to their sports, their teams and their own success. Olympic athletes are inspiring, uplifting and an example to us all of what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication.

They also give us powerful insight into the lives of those with autism. The cornerstones of athletic success routine, repetition and commitment are the same for those with autism.

Routine

Everyday life can often be overwhelming for some individuals with autism and excessive stimulation too much noise, too many people, and too much visual stimuli can cause anxiety, confusion, even loss of self-control. Maintaining a routine is important for individuals with autism to help manage daily life and create stability and order. Routines can be simple, like getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, or more involved, like participation in tailored daily care programs that provide support and growth. Like Olympic athletes, when individuals with autism follow healthy daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly routines, they are able to thrive.

Repetition

Many of the skills and behaviors that come naturally to most people eye contact, communicating with others and understanding of social cues must be acquired by individuals with autism. Learning appropriate social behavior can take considerable effort. Individuals with autism must build a solid foundation, and continue to reinforce their skills through repeated practice, instruction and support. Like an Olympic basketball player, who might finish every practice by shooting 100 free throws in order to stay sharp, individuals with autism often need continued practice and coaching in order to improve and maintain their communication and social skills.

Commitment

Above all, what inspires us about Olympians is their dedication. Many spend their entire lives working towards their goals and the hopes of a gold medal. Likewise, individuals with autism, their families and their support teams work day in and day out to improve their quality of life. Autism is lifelong diagnoses, but that doesn’t mean individuals with it can’t live fulfilled and accomplished lives. Through an ongoing commitment to development of communication, social and independence skills, and with the support of loving families, friends and care teams, individuals with autism achieve fulfilling, productive and socially connected lives.

Olympic athletes are inspiring, but so are individuals with autism and we can all learn from them. Through routine, repetition and commitment, we can unlock our true human potential and share it with the world.

Todd Harris, Ph.D., is director of Autism Services for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pennsylvania and National Autism Consultant.

 

 

Latest News

  Former Devereux student shares her high school experience

“Devereux taught me that I am appreciated and that I do matter,” said Shante Chapman, a former Devereux Day School student. When Shante was younger, she was labeled a “brawler” who was prone to bouts of anger and fighting. After her freshman year in high school, she and her family made the decision to continue her high school education at the Devereux Day School in Pennsylvania.

  2017 Golf & Tennis Classic generates nearly $120,000 for Devereux PA programs

Devereux Pennsylvania’s 30th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic - held at the Philadelphia Cricket Club and the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club - included a golf and tennis tournament, along with live and silent auctions and a cocktail/dinner reception for attendees.

  Devereux article on Positive Behavior Support featured in Fostering Families Today

An article written by Devereux employees - Rachel Eisenberg, Ph.D.; Laura Rutherford, Ph.D.; and Barry McCurdy, Ph.D. - was recently featured in Fostering Families Today magazine. The focus: Positive Behavior Support in treatment foster care.

  Devereux Senior Vice President and COO Carl E. Clark II Elected to RCPA Board

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, announced that Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Carl E. Clark II was elected to the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association’s (RCPA) Board of Directors.

  Tips for Navigating the Special Needs World with Your Child’s Doctor

In a two-part series about fostering strong relationships between physicians and children with special needs, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Director of Family and Community Services Amy Kelly shares her experiences - Tips for Navigating the Special Needs World with Your Child’s Doctor - with Philly.com’s Healthy Kids Blog.

  Devereux celebrates teachers and nurses during recognition weeks

At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, we celebrate our nurses and teachers all year long. But during National Nurses Week and National Teacher Appreciation Week, we really want to give our nurses and teachers a special shout out!

  Adoption brings the gift of family to four siblings in foster care

Donna and Sharicka McHenry were satisfied with their lives in Phoenix, Ariz., but something was missing. “We always wanted children,” said Donna. “We wanted one of our own, but we also knew we would go through the foster care process because there are nearly 18,000 children living in the child welfare system in Arizona.” The couple are now parents to four siblings who previously were in foster care.

  Devereux Announces 2018 Retirement of President and CEO,
Robert Q. Kreider


Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, recently announced that Robert Q. Kreider, President and CEO, will retire in January 2018, following more than 20 years of extraordinary service.

  Nearly 300 attend N.Y. screening of Oscar-nominated movie Life, Animated

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s special screening of the movie Life, Animated was presented to a near sell-out crowd on February 13 in Pelham, N.Y. The event, held in partnership with The Picture House, was followed by a Q&A session with Ron and Cornelia Suskind, the parents featured in the film.

  How Art and a Zoo Help Students with Differences Learn Positive and Healing Behaviors

When working to improve educational outcomes for students with learning differences, it is essential to focus on cultivating behaviors that will equip each student to reach his or her true potential. At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s Leo Kanner Learning Center, creative forms of learning are taking center stage when it comes to building confidence, generating positive behaviors and putting children with differences on a level playing field.

  New Social Enterprise Aperture Education Focuses on Students’ Social and Emotional Competence

Assessment company Apperson, Inc., and the Devereux Center for Resilient Children a prevention-focused service of the nonprofit organization Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health today announced the launch of a new company, Aperture Education, that provides strength-based assessments and resilience-building resources to help schools and out-of-school-time organizations address the whole child.

  Devereux leaders featured in FFTA newsletter; share insight into launching a rebrand

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health leaders Senior Vice President of External Affairs Leah Yaw and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Carl Clark were featured in a recent issue of the Family Focused Treatment Association’s newsletter - FOCUS. The topic: launching an organizational rebrand.

  Dr. Barry McCurdy elected to APBS Board of Directors

Devereux Center for Effective Schools Director Dr. Barry McCurdy was recently appointed to the Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS) Board of Directors. Dr. McCurdy was elected by his peers to serve a three-year term (2017-2020).