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Benefits of Physical Activity for Children with Autism

If a child places on the autism spectrum, it can be difficult to learn to deal with so that the child lives their life to the fullest with an autism diagnosis. Luckily, though, there are certain things you can do and certain steps that you can take to help your child.

One such step is to make sure that your child gets plenty of exercise. It seems like a simple step but that doesn’t mean that it can be overlooked – making sure that your child gets the exercise that they need is absolutely crucial. In this article, we are going to look at some of the benefits that your child can reap from physical activity.

It Decreases the Risk of Being Overweight

According to a statistic by AutismSpeaks, about 16% of children between the age of 2 and 19 are overweight in the U.S. When they measured for the prevalence of being overweight with autistic children in the same age range, though, they found that statistic increased to 19%. To make matters worse, they also found that an additional 36% of autistic children are at risk for being overweight.

There are a couple of culprits for the prevalence of weight problems in autistic children such as unusual eating patterns and the use of certain medications. The primary cause, though, seems to be due to inactivity.

kid eatingAs we will go over in this article, there are plenty of benefits to be had from adding more physical activity to an autistic child’s life. However, if nothing else, it is important to add exercise into their life to avoid the potential of weight problems and the health risks that can come with that. The simplest way that you can ensure that your child doesn’t struggle more than they have to is to make sure they don’t suffer from avoidable health problems as they adjust to life with autism.

Moreover, according to Harkla, regular exercise improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Children with autism have trouble sleeping and insomnia is a major issue for many children who have been diagnosed with ASD.

It Can Help with Stereotypical Behaviors

When we say stereotypical behaviors, we mean those self-stimulating behaviors that autistic children are prone to commit. This could include wringing their hands, odd posturing, rocking, or any other similar behavior. This is also often referred to as stimming.

These behaviors aren’t necessarily negative in general but they can be distracting for the child especially if they are in a classroom setting, for example, and trying to learn.

Luckily, though, studies have found that exercise can be a short-term solution to these behaviors. Certain theories follow that the physical activity is not only similar to the self-stimulating behaviors but it might distract from them as well.

Improvement of Motor Skills

Something that children that place on the autism spectrum can often struggle with is decreased motor skills. It has already been proved in studies that these motor skills can be improved with specific motor training.

However, it is also suggested that regular physical activity could help to develop these skills as many sports and exercises call for practices in motor skills such as reaction time and coordination.

Improve Attention

Much like we discussed with the stereotypical behaviors, exercising can help autistic children to pay attention in class better. Not only does it help to quell the distraction of self-stimulating behavior but it can help to release pent up energy as well. This works even better if exercise is worked into the child’s routine and done regularly.

Potential Social Relationships and Self-Esteem

If you can get your child interested in physical activity, it opens up the option of them potentially playing a team sport. Put into an environment in which they are surrounded by other children with similar interests, it can be easier for them to relate and interact with the people around them.

It should also be noted that generally, autism aside, exercise is great for boosting mood and self-esteem. Just like any other child, it is important to foster the self-esteem of your autistic child and investing time in physical exercise can help with that.

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