Christopher Biggs from Loxley, Alabama carries a weight heavier than any deadlift could challenge us; he deals with autism and Tourette syndrome his whole life.
Christopher has been training in powerlifting since August of 2013 and has shown improvements in his tics and sensory issues due to the stress release of powerlifting.
Daryl Haskew, the coach of the ARC of Baldwin County powerlifting team, recommended that Christopher start training at TOADS, which is a personal training facility in Mobile.
TOADS stands for Total Athletic Development Systems. Brock Cole worked with Christopher and his parents could see a positive change in Christopher’s stress which also carried outside of the gym.
In the gym, Christopher is relaxed, calm, and listens for the cues to lift. His mom says “When Christopher comes here, it’s like family to him. He knows everybody. He’s completely relaxed. Not a bit of stress…He’s proud of what he does.”
Christopher’s olfactory sense is very strong and his hearing is extremely sensitive. Since he has to wear noise cancellation ear muffs when going out to the movies you would think the gym would be too much, right?
Wrong. Christopher is so relaxed (Which being relaxed helps ease the symptoms of his ailments) that he has not had to wear his ear muffs one time in the gym. They are trying to get him used to the noises in the gym and so far he has handled them like a champ.
“Christopher’s tics are vocal and motor. The vocal ones have been the worst because he’ll screech, he’ll hoot, make animal noises. It’s disturbing to people around him, and when he gets caught up in the cycle of doing it, it’s frightening to him. He never tics while he’s here working out. His tics overall are much better, and I think it’s because he relieves stress when he’s here, when he’s working out, and it carries over to the rest of the week.”
Christopher exercises his patience and waits until he hears “bar is loaded” before stepping up to lift and gives him confidence that can carry on into other parts of his life.
“Christopher’s never just stood up there and waited for anything in his life. Christopher, he’s strong. He’s just incredibly strong, and he doesn’t have an off switch and he just lunges. And now he puts his feet in the right position, and he waits until they tell him what to do. I knew he could lift, but I wasn’t sure he could do that part, and he’s doing wonderfully.
“It gives him something that really impresses people his age, and Christopher doesn’t have many things to impress people his age. It gives him confidence, and I can see he’s starting to get control over things that he couldn’t before. With his strength, he doesn’t slam into everything as much as he used to. He’s started to be a little bit more careful and tried to get a grip on it.”
So how did the meet go?
The article (linked below) mentioned that Christopher’s personal records are 85lbs/65lbs/125lbs and he weighs 90 pounds. If you’re doing the math, that’s not too shabby at all… His deadlift is about 1.4x his bodyweight which means someone who weighs 200 pounds would be deadlifting 280.
Christopher set state records in the Youth 2 Division’s 114 pound class. His numbers were a 44.09lb squat, a 55.12lb bench, and a 137.79lb deadlift for a total of 236.99lbs.
Christopher said he likes the deadlift best. (he’s a smart kid)
As a matter of fact, 26 out of the 93 state records that day were set by ARC team members, where Christopher trains at occasionally.
I don’t know the science behind autism and why it happens, but I do know that I’ve read and heard about more and more autistic people who love powerlifting and how much it helps them control their symptoms.
I congratulate Christopher Biggs for finding his passion and sticking with it. Powerlifting is a hard sport but if you treat it right, it will treat you right.
Quotes and Pictures: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2014/03/youngster_pushing_past_autism.html
Meet Results: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2014/03/autistic_competitor_sets_four.html
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