Being active is an important part of life, but if you have a child with autism then it’s actually a much bigger concern than you might think. Children with autism tend to rely on adults to help them transport them one place to another, such as travelling to school or visiting a friend. As a result, they often aren’t very active on their own and will spend much of their time at home. They don’t have the luxury of walking, cycling or riding to school. Oftentimes, our children with autism will be unable to do many active things due to co-mornid conditions like hypotonia. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t encourage them to be more active
Exercise is fantastic for improving your child’s physical well-being but it’s also an effective way to help expend more energy, increase confidence, and even boost their mental health. It’s important to assist your child by promoting healthy physical activity. Often they don’t realize that they need to move around after being sedentary for awhile.
Don’t complicate things
If you’re trying to convince a child with autism to be more physically active then you must not complicate things. Encourage your child to do things like play simple ball games with you. Remember that equipment, such as trampolines and climbing apparatus, requires adult supervision. Safety first especially for children with autism who may not have a great sense of danger. Make it fun but make it safe too.
If you’re homeschooling your kids, then you can make it simple and walk with your child around the garden or outside before and after each lesson. This will simulate travelling to and from school, and also the physical activity that they would get by going from one lesson to another. It doesn’t need to be a long walk–a couple of minutes is fine and will provide plenty of physical stimulation. Take a brain break as we call them in Autismland and go jump on the trampoline for a few minutes. Play a fun game of tag aka dinosaurs chasing each other.
Be Developmentally Appropriate
Once your child starts to grow a little, it might be suitable to introduce them to things such as skateboards and roller skates. This list by Best Products Pro is a fantastic starting place to pick up more physically demanding toys. This will help your child build up a little more confidence in themselves and can give them a fun and exciting way to travel around the neighbourhood or even in your garden. Teaching a child with autism how to use these types of toys can be difficult and time consuming but it’s important to try. Remember that even slow progress is still progress. Your child will have an amazing sense of accomplishment if they can master these skills. If they can’t then there is nothing wrong with admitting defeat and moving on. Logan never mastered the art of riding a 2 wheel bike. We adapted to his needs and bought him a 3 wheel bike.
Not all children with autism will have fun with skates and bikes, but there are other ways to keep them active. For example, swimming can be a great option once your child has taken lessons . Horseback riding is also a fantastic physical activity that has been shown to help with autism. Another good option is martial arts. Many children nowadays take up martial arts not for self-defense, but to improve their confidence. It has the added benefit of helping them learn how to focus. With anything that is lesson based like these skills, be sure to put your child in their developmental age class not their chronological age. We want to ensure success not frustrate them.
It isn’t hard to get your child with autism to be more active. You just need to be aware of it and think outside the box. Being healthy and active will help your child with autism live a higher quality of life. In the end, that’s all we want for our children anyway.