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Published September 13, 2011, 09:47 PM

TNT Fitness program helping kids with autism cope

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Imagine being that parent: Getting stern looks and a shake of the head while in church, the supermarket, the move theatre. It is something children with autism and their families deal with daily, but one boy from Fargo who lives with autism, has found an outlet, and a hero.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Imagine being that parent: Getting stern looks and a shake of the head while in church, the supermarket, the move theatre. It is something children with autism and their families deal with daily, but one boy from Fargo who lives with autism, has found an outlet, and a hero.

Nate Hendrickson – TNT Instructor: “Ready?? Here it comes.”

At least twice a week 7 year-old Tate Johnson turns his early morning, into a learning and life changing day.

Nate: “Tater, nice work. You did it again.”

Here at TNT Gymnastics, Nate Hendrickson has become Tate's life leader and teacher.

Nate: “Every kid has a need to accomplish something.”

Working with Tate, and teaching along the way.

Danyel Johnson – Tate’s Mom: “Broken him out of his shell and really let him spread his wings.”

It may look like play to us, but it is all designed to deal with Tate's autism, which his family says most people don't see from a distance.

Danyel: “Tate looks completely normal. He is perfect on the outside, and so we have a lot of looks and sneers and stares. We were at a baseball game and that is hard for Tate. A lot going on, noise and the people in front of us got up and left.”

Tate was diagnosed at age two. Like a lot of cases his family denied the medical finding, thinking he would outgrow it.

Nate: “Climb up and over.”

Behavior issues in school and in public are things the family has learned to deal with, like on a recent flight on an airline.

Danyel: “The tray that comes up and down, he did it over and over and over the flight attendant came and gave vouchers to the people in front and back and told them ‘Thanks for dealing with that family.’

Nate: “Couple more minutes before school time, bud.”

The bond between Nate and Tate is obvious, and it comes as TNT is working with local school on bringing in more children with disabilities to learn as they play and exercise. Giving them all a chance to, like Tate, spread their wings a little more.

Danyel: “Lots of heartaches and tears, but we are doing it.”

Nate: “And they see that glee of accomplishment that feeling of ‘I am something I can do something,’ that is what keeps me driven.”

Nate: “Time for school buddy.”

TNT wants to develop another 20,000 square feet for its Community Child Development Center.

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