Tim and Peter Gaus aren’t much different than many of the father/son duos who work out together at Club Julian. The Ross Township natives visit twice a week. Peter (19) enjoys the Expresso bikes and hitting the weights in the circuit training area while dad breaks away to the treadmills. As an individual with autism, however, the benefits of membership extend far beyond fitness for the younger Gaus.
“One of Peter’s deficits is communicating with people,” explains Mr. Gaus, who has been accompanying his son to the club for nearly two years. “The whole socialization and communication aspect of being a Club Julian member is beneficial for him.”
In addition to his weight management goals, Peter focuses on self-improvement relating to things most people take for granted like holding a door open for another member, behaving properly in the locker room, and even asking a trainer for assistance. “A lot of times, people with autism address their own needs, but don’t recognize the needs of others around them. So we continually work on those skills at Club Julian,” says Mr. Gaus.
Peter has what is known as high-functioning autism. He graduated from North Hills High School last year, and is now enrolled in Duquesne University’s St. Anthony School Program for the children and young adults with special needs.
According to his father, Peter’s visits to Club Julian reinforce the life skills that he works on daily at Duquesne. “Club Julian is the perfect environment for Peter to interact with a diversity of people. It is a real-world extension of his vocational training, and it works out well. Many of the club members recognize him as being autistic, and so they will offer encouragement and support to what we are trying to accomplish with Peter.”
And while Peter uses Club Julian to advance his socialization and communications skills, his dad also believes he has much to offer those around him. “It’s part of our mission to show the community what people with autism are like. They integrate very well – in fact, they might be the person next to you on the Expresso.”
Congratulations to Tim and Peter Gaus on their success at Club Julian – and keep up the good work!