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How Can We Help with Physical Fitness for People with Autism?


Developing the stamina and overall physical wellbeing of a child with autism.

Studies have shown that children or adults with autism tend to be at risk of obesity and an inactive lifestyle, and simple and short exercises would be able to help in that. Children with autism do not join in to play soccer or other games with their friends due to their low levels of motor skills and the tendency to wander around and get distracted. This makes parents and caregivers want to keep their child with autism indoors to protect them and so that they are safe which in turn leads to them not having enough exercise for themselves (Sarris, 2018).


Vigorous activities for more than 20 minutes reduces behaviours in children with autism such as hyperactivity and aggression. Exercising helps with better overall health and it also helps them to better engage with the environment around them. This in turn increases coordination, strength, endurance, and body awareness. However, just like starting any new skills or tasks with them, remember to be patient and always use encouraging words. Start small and slowly build up as we don’t wish for them to get overwhelmed. Below are 5 exercises that you could try with your child indoors and outdoors (Freutel, 2021).


1) Bear crawls (Kneeling on all fours, gradually can increase the speed/direction. Hold your child at their hips if they need some help)


2) Medicine ball slams (Hold medicine ball above your head with straight arms and slam the ball down as hard as possible. To increase the difficulty, you could increase the weight of the ball or use the ball to throw and hit a specific target)


3) Star jumps (Begin in squatting position and jump up with extending legs and arms. It can be repeated till the child is tired)


4) Arm circles (Making small circles with hands and gradually making bigger circles. Repeat in the other direction as well)


5) Mirror exercises (Face a partner and mimic their movements. For example if the child’s partner touches head then the child should do the same)


These exercises would better help them in their motor skills and also in interacting or socialising with other children. Do also remember to adjust the level or the exercise according to your child’s tolerance level and ability as not all of them would be able to do it. Overall, we want them to enjoy and succeed while doing the exercises.


Written by Jasvinder Kaur


References:

Freutel, N. (2021, September 13). Kids with autism: 5 important exercises. Healthline. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from

https://www.healthline.com/health/exercises-for-kids-with-autism#5.-Mirror-exercises


Sarris, M. (2018, June 20). The challenge of Physical Fitness for people with autism. The Challenge of Physical Fitness for People with Autism | Interactive Autism Network. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://iancommunity.org/ssc/autism-physical-fitness

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