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“Healthy In Body, Heart & Mind”

One of April’s “Autism Awareness” themes is celebrating ways that people with autism lead full and healthy lives. For the Taylor twins, that’s something they celebrate every day.
Sharita and Shaye Taylor standing back to back and smiling.

During COVID, sisters Sharita and Shaye Taylor have missed the action and activity they usually enjoy through their Special Olympics training and competitions. But they are keeping as fit and busy as possible so they’ll be ready when their favorite sport—figure skating—starts up again, perhaps as soon as the fall.

Another reason is because they are both on the spectrum—and exercise really helps with certain aspects of autism. Among other things, physical fitness activities boost mental sharpness and focus—along with positive, can-do attitudes! “After exercising, my mind is clearer. I feel more at peace,” says Sharita. “Without it, my mind gets into a funk. I don’t really want to do anything much. Really, I feel like staying in the bed and sleeping.”

Sharita and Shaye Taylor outside walking their dog.

For Shaye, exercising a little … actually inspires her to exercise a lot! “It motivates me to do more—because it helps me feel good, mentally and physically.”

One excellent way they’ve kept in shape is following the Special Olympics School of Strength workout. They’ve also both been doing virtual jazzercise and yoga regularly. And, of course, Shaye and Sharita have also been taking long walks with their dog, Cheddar, as much as possible.

The sisters say they’ve seen many, many benefits from their COVID fitness regimen—including the big news that Shaye has lost 30 lbs.! She says she feels great!

Sharita adds, “Fitness can help keep us healthy in body, heart and in mind.”

A healthy diet helps, too. “I recently went gluten-free again for the first time in years!” says Sharita. “I started on the diet late last year, and I’ve been all the better for it! I’ve also been eating more vegetables and protein.”

During COVID, the Taylor twins are also keeping their leadership skills sharp. They’ve been advocating for more racial diversity in winter sports, especially figure skating. They are now members of the Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance—the first members with disabilities—making their voices heard! Shaye is also serving on the local county’s board on disabilities.

In addition, Sharita continues to be a dedicated mentor—for her fellow athletes with autism and those without. “I still want to pass on what I’ve learned to younger generations on the spectrum and those who are not on the spectrum! If I can do it, everyone can!”

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