Fitness and sports, for children with autism, can be both essential and challenging.
Children with autism may find fitness and physical activity difficult. Oversensitivity to sights, sounds, and tactile stimuli can affect participation, as can limits or delays in motor coordination and planning. Team sports can be especially challenging for children with autism, who have trouble with communication and social interaction.
Even in the face of these challenges, it’s important to find ways to help children with autism participate in and enjoy physical activities. Regular exercise can prevent or reverse weight gain, and has therapeutic benefits too. Depending on the program and type of activity, participation can help with sensory integration, coordination and muscle tone, and social skills.
Different forms of exercise benefit children with autism in specific ways. Aerobic exercise may help decrease harmful self-stimulating behaviour, and delivers the same health boosts as it does for neuro-typical children and adults: weight loss, heart health, stress relief. Exercise that improves flexibility can help address problems associated with low muscle tone. Strength training can build a child’s core muscles, which will in turn help with balance and coordination.
Sports & Fitness Activities
The following sports and fitness activities are available in St Pauls’ Special School.
Water provides a soothing sensory input
As with swimming, children can be provided with a soothing sensory input. Children can learn to cycle and learn the rules of the road in our purpose built Cycle Park.
Sometimes children with autism enjoy and excel at communicating with animals, making equine sports both fun and therapeutic.