Fitness center helps those with Autism step through journey with strength

By: Scott McDonnell, WTNH Reporter

ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — April is Autism Awareness Month, and there is a new approach to helping children and adults with Autism in Connecticut.

The ASD Fitness Center in Orange is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country.

It offers a different approach to training for kids.

The 5,000 foot facility is designed with the child or adult with Autism in mind.

“The lighting is not your typical real fluorescent, the flooring we don’t want coloring, we don’t want it to echo so we put mufflers under the floor,” said Adam Leapley, Found of the ASD Fitness Center.

Leapley designed to the gym after working with his son, and noticing major differences after physical exercise.

“When he got consistent exercise, he just really did well, so I thought, there’s something there,” said Leapley

The clients work one-on-one with a certified trainer, helping communication and interaction skills improve.

“It becomes more of a mentor-ship, they come week after week. They work basically with the same trainer,” said Christina Keating.

The goal is to improve physically, emotionally, and socially.

The approach made for a natural collaboration with Yale as researchers also break new ground in learning more about Autism.

Researchers like Laura Boscanfuso use robots and eye tracking technology to study the interaction and responses of children with Autism.

“It engages children in dialogue and really focuses on identifying areas of difficulty in terms of communicating with peers for example,” said Boscanfuso.

All of it, to help kids like Logan Soto from Trumbull.

Soto has been working at the ASD Fitness Center for about a year now, his mother says the difference is noticeable.

“The more we get participation, and a compliance level with him that helps him do the things he needs to succeed,” said Yolanda Soto, Logan’s mother.

She believes he has gained overall strength, leading to more endurance with helps him focus longer and remain engaged.

Right now, the ASD Fitness Center is working with state lawmakers towards becoming covered by insurance providers.

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