Childcare and You

Childcare and You

Monday, December 26, 2011

Physical Activities and Exercises for Children with Autism

Latest statistics of autism are overwhelming. The figures of 1983, which was 1 child in 10,000 had autism, have increased to 1 in 100 diagnosed with autism. This shows a staggering increase by almost 7000%.

Children with autism have social, behavioral and neurological disorders and although there is no cure for it on account of unknown causes, there are many therapeutic exercises that can positively impact and improve the mind and body co-ordination, rhythm, balance, communication skills and neuromuscular dysfunction of children with autism. Physical activities will enhance your child’s connection with his surroundings, strengthen his social and behavioral skills and increase muscular strength and endurance. Reduced or lack of physical activity is the major cause for obesity in autistic children and diet alone will not help solve this problem. Though it is challenging to get children with autism to participate in any activity, you can take the help of various autism help groups to assist you.

Reboundingis an exercise done by bouncing up and down on a small trampoline. Rebounding should be started as early as possible with your child, as it vastly improves your child’s important skills like balance and co-ordination. Rebounding will work wonders for autistic children that are extraordinarily hyperactive and athletic. It helps you to let your child with autism to use the rebounder without having to constantly face impending dangers of running out of the house, getting lost or getting hit by a vehicle. Rebounder will help your child be more aware of his environment and more compliant with his bearings. Ensure that you help your child initially, to use the rebounder until he is well capable of using it entirely on his own.  
Click on the links below for more information on Rebounders

Outdoor activities Exercising outdoors is excellent for doing any sort of physical activities. It exposes them to outside elements, improves cognition with images and sounds and wonderful for mental, physical and emotional health. Some effective exercises for your child with autism are a wide range of animal-based movements like frog hops, bear walk, donkey kicks, inch worm walk and bird walk. You can improvise on these activities and add more animal-based walks of your own and improve your child’s mobility. 

Organized games and sports
I Spy – This game will improve your child’s focus on an object. Give detailed description of the object and encourage your child to point the object. For a child with even more severe issues of processing, you may describe one object from a set of two and have your child point the right one.

Guessing gameAsk your child to keep his eyes closed and give him any toy or an object that he can easily identify. Have your child feel it and ask him to describe it, if he has communication skills. If not, ask him to show you the picture of that object after he has opened his eyes.

Box O BeansThis game will help your child in identifying shapes, textures and colors. Fill a big tub with large beads. Add small toys to it and ask your child to place both her hands inside the tub and pick out objects you have asked for. All these games will greatly improve your child’s sensory stimulus.

Other games like water balloon or skipping small rocks in a small pond is great for improving your child’s motor skills. Sports like bowling, baseball & skiing are preferred choices for children with autism. Avoid dancing, kickboxing, soccer, as it involves physical contact that could hurt or confuse your child.

Hand exercises like squeezing and pinching - Squeezing and pinching will improve your child’s hand strength and fine motor skills.
Have your child squeeze the water from a sponge or a wash cloth. Have her squirt water from a spray bottle over plants or window panes. Alternately, you can give your child squishy balls, play dough, clay, koosh balls or therapy putty.
Pinching involves the thumb and the fingers, on account of which her fine motor skills will improve. Flipping coins, turning door knobs, ripping paper or picking up coins and other small objects are great for strengthening your child’s fingers.

Awareness exercisescan help in improving your child’s sensory perception and awareness of soft, hard, cold or hot things with his fingers. Have your child play with different textures like stones, sand, shaving cream and water. Have your child use his fingers to trace or finger play on a flat surface to increase his awareness. 

Get your child an iPad - If your child is high functioning and hyperactive, an iPad will fulfill his intellectual needs as well as have him sit still for sometime while playing on it. 


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