Autism Warrior: Brian Higginbotham
Fighting for Autism, President of US Operations
Fighting for Autism is a global, nonprofit organization with many divisions proudly working with children, families, and communities to bring autism awareness and inclusion amongst different cultures. It is designed to improve the quality of life for children and adults living with autism through multiple divisions including Fighting For Autism, Fitness For Autism, and Racing For Autism.
Fighting for Autism operates a number of programs and initiatives globally, including:
Awareness & Acceptance Initiative
- Ambassador Program
- Promotion Affiliate Program
- Gym Affiliate Program
- Brand Affiliate Program
Cameras in Classrooms Initiative
Alternative Therapy Initiative
- Kickboxing Therapy Program
- Autism Fitness Program
- Adaptive Dance Program
- Adaptive Athletics Program
- Social Skills Program
Adaptive Inclusion Initiative
- Live Performance Venue Sensory Support Program
- Sensory Friendly Production Consulting
Autism Education Initiative
- Family Autism Training
- Venue Staff Autism Training
- First Responder Autism Training
- Gym & Coach Autism Training
Employment Training Initiative
Family Support Initiative
Autism Resources Initiative
Location: US Operations is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, with a presence
across 24 US states, the UK, and Ireland, led by President of European Operations Paul Greany, and Australia, led by founder and President of Australia Operations, Christian Mitchell.
Accomplishments: Over the past four years, Fighting for Autism has developed a proprietary Kickboxing Therapy and Fitness Program that operates globally, and is in the process of developing additional alternative therapy programs including an Adaptive Dance Program, Music Therapy, Art Therapy, and Movement and Rebound Therapy with various partner gyms and instructors.
The initiative has a very large global platform to spread awareness and autism education through 400 plus ambassadors, and promotion affiliates such as large regional and national MMA Promotions, Boxing Promotions, Professional Wrestling Promotions, Muay Thai Promotions, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Promotions, which allows it to have a strong physical presence of between 10,000 to 30,000 people at live events per month.its strength lies in a global network that consists of professional fighters, professional wrestlers, actors and actresses, fight promotions, coaches, personal trainers, fitness, and martial arts gyms globally, who all work together to ensure they can provide a lasting and meaningful impact on the families served in each community.
What is very unique about the programs is they all are free or extremely inexpensive to autism families, and 100 percent of donation revenue is recycled back into the community in which it is raised to help local families. Another cool accomplishment is in the Adaptive Athletics Program which advocated for fully sanctioned mixed martial arts inclusion for those with both intellectual and physical disabilities, fighting to allow adaptive athletes their right to compete in safe, modified martial arts competition. The first ever sanctioned adaptive MMA bout happened due to efforts in late 2014 and in June of 2017, seeing the first ever adaptive MMA title fight in the history of the sport of MMA.
Inspiration: “My son is my biggest inspiration. Carson is six and half years old and is on the spectrum. He provides my daily drive to develop programs and increase our physical network and presence. All of our executive leadership team are parents of children on the spectrum, so we are extremely passionate about making a real, lasting and positive impact to support not only our children, but all children and families living on the autism spectrum around the world.”
Goals: “In the US, we are working towards increasing our physical presence in each state through our state chapter program. We are working hard toward opening therapy and community centers in various markets across the country. Each center will provide traditional, and alternative therapy programs, and will offer all of our currently existing and future programs such as autism education seminars, a full fitness center, a martial arts gym, an alternate/non-public classroom setting, respite services, diagnosis and treatment plan services, IEP advocacy, and additional family support resources. We work very hard at developing programs with a unique development committee approach that consists of phenomenal autism subject matter experts such as pediatric neurologists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, board certified behavioral analysts, special education teachers, parents, etc. We hope to expand our programs into gyms and affiliate locations across the country.”
Advice for families affected by autism: “My advice to families around the world is to stay strong, stay focused, be active with your children and be their voice. I strongly encourage families to get actively involved with Fighting for Autism and our programs and offerings. Take an active approach to leading your child’s therapy, education, and community involvement, and get them out and active and help them live life to the fullest. Never allow a diagnosis to define your life or theirs!”
www.fightingforautism.org/ (coming soon)
This article was featured in Issue 67 – Preparing for Adulthood With Autism