Exercise as a Treatment for Autism
When your child gets diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you need to find the right treatment for their needs. Though there are many different types of therapies out there that are proven to help with the disorder, there’s one treatment for autism that’s effective for almost all kids: exercise.
Benefits of Exercise for Children with Autism
Exercise as therapy is becoming far more mainstream than it used to be and for good reason. It has tons of benefits for everyone involved. Here are a few of the top reasons to consider this simple yet effective treatment option.
Improves Social Skills
For most kids with autism, social skills and communication skills can be challenging to develop. Through exercise and group activities specifically designed for children with autism, those skills can improve naturally. They learn to communicate with others, follow directions from instructors, and gain practice using those skills in a supportive and inclusive setting.
For many children on the spectrum, developing fine motor skills won’t happen as quickly as it does for kids without autism. The more you can encourage your child to be active, the easier it will be for them to build those skills. But unlike traditional therapies, exercise as a treatment for autism can feel more fun. This makes those often repetitive movements exciting and new instead of tedious. Kids will be more willing to perform those necessary movements if it feels like a game rather than therapy.
Everyone, whether they’re on the spectrum or not, can always improve their physical fitness. For people of all ages on the spectrum, this can dramatically improve their quality of life. Remember, just because someone is diagnosed with autism doesn’t mean they can’t develop other underlying health conditions. The better their physical fitness is and the sooner they start developing the skills that allow them to maintain it, the better off they’ll be as they grow older.
Every treatment for autism is tailored to the person on the spectrum. This is true for exercise as therapy. If your child has a strong passion for animals, assisted dog walking or therapeutic horseback riding can be great choices. If your child LOVES baseball and can rattle off batting averages for hours, their exercise therapy can incorporate that passion. It’s all based on the child and their skills. Over time and as they develop better coordination and physical stamina, the treatment can and should evolve.
Exercise Can Be Fun for Everyone
Using exercise as a treatment for autism is a great way to keep your child stimulated while helping them build new skills they otherwise might not develop. Start slowly and see if you can get the whole family involved. Just remember that exercise is only one treatment for autism. There are other therapies that you may need to consider to fully help your child develop the skills and tools they need to be productive, happy, and healthy.
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