Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Getting Healthy

Last week I wrote about the new Department of Education guidance that states students with disabilities should be provided sports opportunities through school. I'm not naive enough to think that is going to happen overnight, but so many of our children are not getting an adequate amount of physical exercise, children with disabilities in particular. I don't want to generalize about children with disabilities, so I will confine my discussions to Ashley and Jessica, two of my children who absolutely do not get enough exercise.

Let's start with Jessica. Due to some of the medications Jessica takes as well her her predisposition to being overweight and combined with the fact that in her group home little attention is paid to her diet, Jessica is overweight. More than just a little chubby, she is 22 years old and wears a ladies size 2X. Just over a year ago, she was wearing a size 1X. My concern is that she will continue to gain weight and face the medical issues associated with that.

(Just for the record - I am not bashing anyone who may be overweight. I'm right there myself. But in Jessica's case and Ashley's case, extra weight presents some medical challenges. Neither girl's worth is measured in pounds, but I want them both to be happy and healthy, and that means managing their weight from a medical standpoint.)

Ashley, because she is deafblind and has seizures, is not someone who exercises for the sake of exercise. At school she will walk around the track with her classmates, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand the value of that or of any planned exercise for that matter. And to complicate things, because she has a very limited list of foods she will eat (most of them carbs), she has a tendency to gain weight. I know very little about her family history, but like Jessica, I want her to be happy and healthy.

So I want to be proactive on the exercise front. I want to find something both girls might enjoy, or at least tolerate, and which provides for exercise. One idea I have is a treadmill. Regardless of the weather, Ashley and Jessica could walk indoors, under supervision. I think I will still need to do something to make walking appealing to them - perhaps mount an iPad somewhere on the treadmill. But, while I am saving up to buy a treadmill, I would like to find something else that might provide some exercise, and I would love to know if you have any ideas.

Jessica doesn't like pools, so swimming is not an option. Ashley will get in a pool but doesn't move around once in (probably related to her deafblindness and sensory issues). I prefer not to do our walking outside or at the mall given Ashley's seizures, and there are really no organized programs or sports that either girls would fit in or which would run more than a few weeks a year. The only other thing I thought about was a mini-trampoline.

What are your thoughts?

ATM: That time each night that Ashley snuggles down into her bed covers and gives me her sweetest smile of the day.


Suzy said...

Check garage sales for treadmills - people will get rid of them for insanely low prices (other fitness equipment as well; including mini-tramps).

PinkLAM said...

What about a stationary bike?

Ashley's Mom said...

Suzy, that's a great idea! PinkLAM, maybe I should take the girls by a sports store and try out both a bike and a treadmill to see which they are more comfortable on. Jessica does have some balance issues plus she's not the most coordinated. I'll have to see if the bike is something she can figure out. Ash, because of her seizures, might be a little safer on the bike than on a treadmill....

schnitzelbank said...

I'm going to chime in-- a recumbent stationary bike. It sits lower to the ground than a regular one and has a big chair to sit in, rather than a little saddle. Might be safer.
Hm... now only if we could make the iPad powered by pedalling... ;)
How about one of those bike pedal things that sit on the floor? Can be used with arms and/or legs.
If you go walking, adding in wrist or ankle weights can increase the fitness!
Is there a local rec center where you can try out some equipment? I lived in a community that had an indoor walking track, and special hours for special needs walkers (although everyone was welcome all the time, there were designated hours that were known to be times where they may be people that need extra time to get around).