BEST EXERCISES FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM
If one would think that autistic individuals don’t have the capacity to develop an exercise routine like neurotypical people due to their condition, then they are among those who are not only misinformed about the nature of Autism Spectrum Disorder but also belittle the potential of persons with autism. If there’s any truth about exercise in this context, it’s the fact that autistic people need it, perhaps even more so than neurotypical ones, given that recovery from physical disabilities or weaknesses is possible if such exercise routine is well-established and observed. One of the common symptoms of autism is the difficulty with gross motor skills, which leads to a weak sense of balance and struggle in performing big movements such as running, walking and delay in starting and stopping such actions. Through specialised exercises, such challenges can be corrected and even completely eliminated if introduced as early as possible.
However, not all types of exercises can be performed by autistic individuals knowing that their physical irregularities and mental faculty can impose certain limitations to what they can do. Just like normal people, those within the Autism Spectrum can benefit from routine physical exercises, especially kids and teens who are still on their growth and development stage. But unlike the common challenges that neurotypical individuals face regarding exercise such as fighting tardiness and improving endurance, autistic people mostly find it hard to develop an exercise routine due to their natural aversion to things that are new or introduced changes. Fortunately, there are specific exercises tailored for autistic people and the following ones are some of the best, if not the best, routines you can find. Knowledge of these exercises will prove indispensable for autistic people who don’t have the time or financial resource to spend on clinical treatment and therapy sessions.
The person starts off the exercise by assuming a squatting position with both feet flat on the floor. They must also see to it that both arms are tucked in so that the elbows can touch the knees. Once the trainer gives the cue, they must have to jump up with all limbs stretched out like the shape of a star (hence the name of the exercise) and then revert back to their original position. This simple exercise must be performed 20 times or until the person cannot do it anymore. For an advanced version, you can try performing the jumping action laterally, forward and backwards.
This activity is aimed at improving the autistic person’s balance, auditory skills and response time for certain body cues. The exercise can be broken down into four main positions and must be performed on a clean surface or mat. The first position requires the person to lay flat on the ground on their stomach, similar to that of the “plunking trend”. The second position is performed by raising both arms and knees to touch the ground, in the form of a quadruped or crawling toddler. In the third position, the person needs to stand up and bend their knees as they prepare to jump, which is actually the final action to be done as the fourth position. The trainer will need to make specific cues for every position so that the person can follow through. It can be as simple as verbal cues like “first position, second position”, and so on or number cues “one, two, three, four”. The trainer can also do it nonverbally by clapping their hands, playing a sound, and similar other methods.
As the name of the exercise suggests, the person will be guided on how to walk in the manner that’s similar to how bears walk. It begins by assuming a quadruped or crawling position, with both arms and knees on the floor. The legs should then be bent, now with feet on the floor, and fingers of both arms spread. The person may then begin walking around the area while making sure that both palms will always touch the ground. The walking movement may be done forward, backwards and laterally. If the do-er finds it difficult to move around, the trainer can guide them by manoeuvring their hips. When done right and reinforced in constant practice, this can enhance motor planning skills, and strengthen should and body trunk.
Ball Grab and Ball Tap
This simple exercise requires both the trainee and the trainer to stand in front of each other within arm’s reach. In the ball grab exercise, the trainer will hold the ball and move it around in different directions while the trainee follows the ball with their eyes and try to grab it in each specific position. The movement of the ball can either be random, or patterned as left and right, up and down, or a combination of all directions. The ball tap works in the same manner, but this time the trainee will hold the ball as they try to tap it into the trainer’s hands that are constantly moving around.
Med Ball/ Sandbell Overhead Throw
The doer has to stand in a specific location where they can freely throw the medicine ball or sandbell overhead. They can throw the ball to a designated partner or slam it with all their force to the ground. More advanced variations include scoop throwing, where the ball is originally held between the legs before being scooped and thrown overhead, and jump throwing. This exercise will help increase the autistic individual’s core strength and sense of balance, as well as improve short-term memory.
Although these exercise routines show great potential in correcting certain physical imbalances, one cannot be too sure that it will help treat their own autism-related disorders. We recognize the fact that all individuals, even those with autism disorder, are different in a way and the same goes for our needs and preferences. If you have more concerns regarding this topic or the content of this page, we recommend that you seek professional help or see further links for more support.