When it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) we do not typically think about exercise and the benefits. Adults and children with ASD are less likely to participate in physical activity and this can lead to conditions linked to lifestyle factors such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity which can lead to further risk factors. Not only can participating in exercise reduce the risk factor of developing these conditions it can also help with managing ASD symptoms.
Children with ASD can find some motor control and motor patterns more difficult than peers their own age. Children may have one motor aspect challenging (i.e. balance) or it may be multiple movements that are challenging (coordination). Exercise physiologist can assist in correcting or helping to develop correct movement patterns. Breaking down the movements to assist in building more gross movements or finding the challenging part and building this up will allow them to increase their motor skills. Exercise physiologist can assist them to build skills to encourage lifelong physical activity participation. Increasing their confidence in movement may increase participation in sport and enhance social participation.
Not all persons with ASD will have the same ASD related symptoms and behaviours however there is more evidence to say participating in exercise can help to reduce or manage these. Exercise can assist in better emotional regulation as many people with ASD will commonly have anxiety or depression we know that exercise is great in managing these. There is also evidence that exercise can help reduce repetitive behaviours in people with ASD.
Exercise can provide so many benefits for children and adults with ASD. It can help improve self-confidence, mental health, movement, social engagement, and overall health. If you have any further questions or would like to start an exercise program for your child book with our paediatric specialist Eden or book now.