gymnastics for Autistic kids

Dr. Larry Nassar is starting a foundation to help raise money for autism research and treatment. He is very interested in the role that gymnastics can play in the motor development of children with autism and other special needs. His foundation, Autism Foundation, is just getting started and he would like to get the message out.

A good place to start is his Facebook Autism page.

Nastia Liukin will be the special guest star at the Autism Awareness Gymnastics Competition, Michigan State University vs University of Illinois at MSU Jennison Fieldhouse Friday Evening Feb 25, 2011.

Bridget Sloan is doing the same at Twistars Gymnastics Invitational 1/8/2011, a special guest star to help promote the Foundation.

Meet Nikki Gutman, age-10

… diagnosed with autism at age 2, has overcome many obstacles in her life through gymnastics. Nikki participated in the BIG FUN Therapy and Recreational Services program for several years, competes on a state level in gymnastics, and has caught up academically with the general education population …

The Acorn


The best coverage I’ve seen of the debate over whether or not vaccines might (rarely) trigger Autism is PBS Frontline The Vaccine War.

I’m convinced that we must continue to vaccinate children as per schedule while, at the same time, doing more research. The risks of not vaccinating far outweigh the risks of following the regime.


#1 Kary on 12.08.10 at 1:00 am

The main article behind the autism-vaccination link has been retacted, and the guy behind it (Andrew Wakefield) has been struck off. Some parents may see links, but this does not mean that these links actually exist. When something goes wrong, you want to find a reason, but the reason that is found may have no scientific basis.

I guess I am biased on this point. I was very sick with measles as a baby before I could get my shots.

Autism is diagnosed more often, but this may relate to more diagnoses rather than more autism.

Anyway, it is good that Nastia and Bridget are getting behind helping these kids.

#2 2nd generation gymnast, 2nd generation ASDer on 12.08.10 at 1:19 am

Scientific consensus is that vaccines are not the cause of autism. Even if they were a rare cause, saying “oh, let’s not protect my kid from deadly diseases, they may become autistic” is a pretty awful thing to say. It says “Better dead than different”.

On a gymnastics note, I’ve known a lot of people with ASDs who have done very very well in the sport (myself & one of my parents included. Seriously, best therapy EVER. And super fun). I hope the foundation brings this wonderful sport to all the kids who’d benefit.

#3 coffeeyum on 12.08.10 at 6:42 am

I traveled out to Indiana to volunteer at the 1st The Flip For Autism Invite this past month hosted by the FlipZone. It was a fantastic event!! Bridget was wonderful, she spent time with all the gymnasts that came to see her.

I am excited to support Larry Nassar’s foundation for years to come.

#4 Vivien Symington on 12.08.10 at 2:08 pm

Hi Dr. Naasar: I have developed a program for children living with autism and other mobility challenges and we are about to do an evidenced based research project. We get great results. You can check us out on our website and if you are interested you can reach me at the above email address.
Vivien Symington

#5 Nik on 12.08.10 at 2:31 pm

There have been much more significant studies indicating that vaccines have no impact on Autism rates eg
In Denmark, a study of 440,000 children vaccinated with the MMR were compared to 96,000 who were not; there was no difference in the incidence of autism.

This is much bigger than the original Wakefield study which Kary corrently points out was retracted. Wakefield also failed to mention at the time he was paid to conduct the study by lawyers who then sued the pharma companies who produced vaccines on behalf of the parents of children with autism.

Autism diagnoses have increased but its possible that autism itself hasn’t (in the 60-70s autism kids were probably just the strange kids who didn’t like to play etc). Its also possible that artificial flavours, processed foods, steroids in chickens etc etc could have something to do with the increased incidence- all of these things have become more popular in the time vaccines have. So have many other popular compounds and foods etc

Regardless- its great that there is a program that sounds fun, is tailored to these kids and promotes fitness. Great to see Bridget and Nastia take part too!

#6 » Blog Archive » News 9th December, 2010 on 01.24.11 at 8:19 am

[…] […]

#7 Chelsea on 09.15.11 at 3:00 pm

I was also dx with autism officially at age 26 but was special needs growing up from age 2 and they didn’t know what to call it back in the early 80s so they said it was a speech delay with behavioral symptoms. My parents put me in gymnastics from age 2 on and I actually not only excelled at the sport I was in the JO program and competed through level 10. I never caught up fully academically. I was found to have another learning disability like dyslexia and was in special ed in high school. I went to college and got a bachelors with persistent effort though! I still do gymnastics at age 29. I found that when I stopped the sport I regressed big time into fits of self injury and other difficulties. I now in addition to doing gymnastics, also run races and have found the aerobic activity to be extremely beneficial to my health and life. I am a huge advocate for physical activity for autistic kids and others with special needs. I would not be able to live independently without gymnastics!

#8 coach Rick on 09.15.11 at 4:25 pm


Thanks for commenting, Chelsea.

I’m inspired and impressed by your life story.

#9 Hugs all around! | I'm A Gymnastics Genius on 06.15.13 at 4:51 pm

[…] […]

Leave a Comment