David S. Geslak,BS, ACSM EP-C, CSCS (Coach Dave)

David S. Geslak,BS, ACSM EP-C, CSCS
(Coach Dave)

As a Para-Educator and Fitness Coordinator at a school for children with autism, Coach Dave experienced first-hand the challenges of teaching exercise. By understanding that students with autism learn differently, he developed a system that has become a breakthrough in effectively teaching exercise. Twelve universities have incorporated his program into their Adapted Physical Education and Special Education Programs. Coach Dave is regularly speaks at autism conferences around the world.

Coach Dave graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Health Promotion. He is a Certified Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also a former student assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Iowa Football Program.

Books and Articles

Autism Fitness Handbook

Autism Fitness Handbook

Published by Jessica Kingsley, Coach Dave shares over 50 exercises that have been successfully taught to children and adults in homes and at schools. With a step-by-step approach and a visuals support for each exercise, your children and students can achieve the exercise connection.



Mary Angelico, Physical Therapist

Mary Angelico, PT

Mary is a physical therapist for Hinsdale High School District 86 in Illinois. Mary is also the mother of a son with autism. In 2010, Mary reached out to Coach Dave to work with her son. After witnessing her son's tremendous gains in strength, coordination, and overall sense of accomplishment, she became inspired to educate other families on the benefits of exercise.

Mary has provided valuable insights, as both a mother and a therapist, in the design of the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate so it can benefit both physical and occupational therapists in a educational or clinical setting.

Richard Cotton, Project Manager, Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate

Richard Cotton

Richard Cotton, retired National Director of Certification for ACSM, is the Project Manager for the Autism Exercise Specialist Certificate. He is excited to have a role in making a positive impact in the autism community. He earned a master's degree in exercise science from San Diego State University, in San Diego, California. He is an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, and serves as the Preventive and Rehabilitative Program Director.

He's also served as a wellness coach and industry consultant, and is considered an expert industry resource by major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. He's also appeared on broadcast shows and networks such as ABC's Good Morning America, Dateline NBC, and CNN.

Cindy Piletic, Ph.D.

Cindy K. Piletic, Ph.D.

Dr. Piletic is a Graduate Professor of Kinesiology in the Kinesiology Department of Western Illinois University (WIU). She earned her Ph.D. from Texas Women’s University in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Adapted Physical Activity.

SHAPE America recognized Dr. Piletic’s community-based motor clinic at WIU as the “Outstanding Program for Adapted Physical Activity.” Dr. Piletic has written multiple publications and presented around the world about adapted physical activity.

Dr. Piletic asked Coach Dave to be part of her program by lecturing to WIU students about autism and made ExerciseBuddy part of the curriculum because of its numerous evidence-based practices.

Laura Bassette, Ph.D.

Laura A. Bassette, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Laura Bassette is an Assistant Professor of Applied Behavior Analysis/Autism in the Special Education Department at Ball State University. Prior to Ball State, Dr. Bassette earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from Purdue University and completed a post-doctoral fellowship with an emphasis in severe disabilities at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

Dr. Bassette previously worked as a behavior analyst for adolescents and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.  Dr. Bassette’s research explores how technology can support the implementation of behavioral interventions to teach academic and life skills to students with disabilities through socially valid community engaged projects.

Dr. Bassette is currently conducting several research projects exploring the positive impact of ExerciseBuddy as a component of behavioral interventions to improve physical activity in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities.

Steve Edelson, Ph.D.

Stephen Edelson, Ph.D.

Dr. Edelson is the Director of the Autism Research Institute and has been active in the field of autism for over 30 years. Dr. Edelson received his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Experimental Psychology at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Dr. Edelson has conducted autism research in a variety of areas comprising behavior, sensory issues, and cognition; he has published peer-reviewed research articles with many notables in the autism field, including Drs. Bernard Rimland, Ivar Lovaas, Temple Grandin, and Margaret Bauman.

Dr. Edelson is impressed and encouraged with the research and progress exercise is having on the autism community.