Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Muscle Tone, Core Strength & Aspergers - LINKS

As I've been doing my physical therapy for core strength and whatnot, I keep thinking to myself, "Isn't there some connection between Aspergers and strength"? I keep thinking I had to have heard or read about this somewhere, and I have just forgotten to actually google it. 


"As children, aspies often find that they are able to easily perform feats which require flexibility but not strength or balance, such as splits, backbending and shoulder rotation. They may display unusual flexibility in other joints such as fingers."

Yup. I was the kid who could touch the ground BEHIND her feet, while maintaining straight legs. I could do (and still can do) backbends/bridges. I can scratch almost every spot on my back with a little effort. I could do the splits, though not perfectly, and had I cared more, some simple stretching would have solved any imperfections on that move. Even the chiropractor tells me that I am very flexible to adjust. Doing certain physical therapy positions takes great effort to get them to do anything for me because of that flexibility. I could, for a period, dance like Shakira (though I have NO interest in that anymore at this point in my life). Shoulder rotation is a lot better than my husband, and I just thought he was a stiff guy (he does have a lot of tight muscles). 

"Such flexibility comes with a price and aspies are usually quite uncoordinated and clumsy. In running, this contributes to the famed "unusual gait". It's easy to imagine that low muscle tone only affects the big muscles but this isn't the case, it affects all activities requiring muscles including most notably, speech, pencil grip and writing."

True. I feel I'm clumsy, I feel like I don't run well, and I had and still have pencil grip and writing issues! My son is having these same problems and has also been determined to have little core strength, just like me. Interesting, right? 

"When sitting or standing for long periods, aspies tend to slump quite a bit. Sometimes, they will stand with their legs crossed in what appears to be an uncomfortable fashion. My mother was constantly trying to correct this stance and while I'm reasonably aware of it at work, I still find myself standing that way regularly. I'll point out now that although this looks uncomfortable, this is actually a very comfortable stance for aspies."

I TOTALLY do this. I know I stand oddly. People usually don't comment on it, but when they do its usually wondering if I'm comfortable, or even if I have to go to the bathroom. It is neither, it is just oddly comfortable to stand like that. I don't know why. (I wish I had a picture of me standing like that. I might try this later.)

"Aspies often sit with their head and shoulders rolled forward and will frequently lean on walls, furniture, door frames and desks."

Exactly. This is my major problem. Bad posture. Terrible posture.

"Dangers inherent in Low Muscle Tone
While the slumping and leaning behaviours aren't necessarily great posture, they're not particularly dangerous to the aspie unless the position is adopted for very long periods without proper breaks.

I have first-hand experience with this problem as I've had episodes of "overuse syndrome", a kind of RSI, with my hands, arms and shoulders from sitting at my computer for too long. It took quite a while for OH&S to work out that the issue wasn't with my hands, or even with my workspace. It was simply due to excessive time spent in an unsupported position. 

Fixing the Problem
As I said earlier, the fix isn't normal weight training, it's physiotherapy and specialized muscle training. There is also a need for awareness and constant correction of one's position. In my case, the muscles most needing training were small ones high on my back. Correcting my keyboard "slump"moved my arms and shoulders back into less damaging positions. I have to be constantly aware of my position and correct it thoughout the day. I also do a bit of stretching and strengthening work on them at the gym."
WOW. That is exactly how it is. I have to work on these things. It is terrible how bad my muscles are in my shoulders. They hurt, and they are the ones that prevent me from good posture, they are the ones that are super tight, and screwed up. 

So, basically, I see a lot that there are connections between Aspergers/Autism and muscle tone or strength issues. Oddly enough, the information I'm running across indicates that there should be delays in speech, and crawling and walking. For myself, I don't think I had any delays whatsoever, and my son, whom I suspect has Aspergers as well, definitely didn't have any delays, as he was walking at about 7-8 months old. So, I don't think that everyone has their act together on this information and how it relates to ASD. 

Anyway, what are your thoughts/experiences with muscle tone/strength and ASD?

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