Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 68 children in the United States. An autistic child may have different abilities with communication, motor control, or the ability to manage emotions.
However, ASD can cause symptoms that pose a variety of unique concerns regarding physical activities.
While every autistic child may be ready or able to engage in competitive sports, they can still benefit from physical activities that strengthen muscles, improve coordination and increase self-esteem.
It’s easy to design a simple activity course that will help your child utilize a variety of muscle groups for better coordination, increased physical confidence and improved general health.
Some different types of exercises can be included in the course, such as:
- Bear walk: Walking on all fours improves coordination and large muscle control.
- Hurdle step-overs: Hurdles can range from 6 to 12 inches high and can be alternated with forward, backward and sideways stopovers for improved balance, coordination and strength.
- Star jump: The child begins in a squatting position with arms tucked in tightly, and then jumps, throwing hands and legs outward in a “star” position, then returns to the squatting position. These jumps can be done in multiples for improved muscle strength and agility.
Many autistic children have difficulty with team sports that require fast communication and management of emotions. They can still enjoy the physical and mental workout of basketball by engaging in free throws, dribbling, taking turns and moving around other players.
As their skills improve, they can then enjoy more interaction with other players.
Swimming can provide your autistic child with the sensory stimulation that is so important in focusing their attention and interest. Swimming lessons also make sure your autistic child will be prepared if they happen to wander away into areas where there are bodies of water.
Swimming offers exercise for all parts of the body that help to improve muscle strength, balance, and good weight management. Also, the movements of swimming are rhythmic and repetitive, which most autistic children enjoy.
Visit a site like SwimJim to find the right swim class for your child so they can remain safe while learning valuable swimming skills.
Running is a very basic activity where many autistic children find the perfect ways to get meaningful exercise, as well as relief from stress and anxiety.
The act of running allows them to focus on the physical sensation of movement, breathing, and the surrounding environment, in a way both pleasurable and healthy.
Autistic children vary in their ability to ride bicycles. Some may not be able to achieve the balance and motor skills necessary to utilize a two-wheeler, but most will benefit from some variation of the basic design that allows them to ride either alone or in groups.
Bike riding allows children to get out in the fresh air, use the large muscles of the lower body and experience the control of a vehicle with their mind and body.
Improving this ability is an important skill for autistic children, who are highly dependent on this sense.
Finding the right physical activities for your autistic child can take some time and experimentation, but if they can find a stimulating activity they enjoy, they will be able to receive much-needed exercise and development.
Did you know aquariums have a big positive effect on all of us and especially with children suffering from autism? Aquariums are beneficial in several ways, click here to learn them.