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Autistic children can go through many struggles during the school day. Academics can struggle to understand, have overwhelming sensory stimuli all around, and often deal with bullies. While we cannot prevent every issue for them, we can work with them to help build up their skills and help support their individual needs. We often forget physical activities and how autistic children can be a fantastic tool!

5 Fantastic Exercises for Autistic Children

Recent studies show a definite correlation between physical exercise and mood for adults and children with autism. These studies have also shown improvements in social skills. Getting our children to exercise can seem overwhelming, simply because of what we think of as exercise.

Exercise doesn’t have to be pushups, weightlifting, or running. Exercise can be fun! Let’s look at some easy and fun exercises for children with autism.

Tips You Should Follow Before Starting the Exercise

Before starting, here’s what you must know:

  • Always consult with your child’s physician before you start any exercise routing for your child.
  • Start exercises slowly. Monitor any signs of fatigue like muscle cramps, dizziness, or shortness of breath. 
  • Make sure your child stays well hydrated and rested before doing the exercise. 
  • Start with low-intensity exercises and increasing the intensity slowly. 

Now, let’s get to the good stuff!


Superman

One of our son’s favorite PT exercises is the superman. The Superman exercise helps strengthen their lower back muscles which help with posture and balance. Combined with deep breathing exercises or a body sock, this exercise

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. On hands and knees: reach one arm straight out in front in the air, like Superman! Try and hold for one minute.
  2. Put your arm down and lift one leg up straight out behind. Try and hold this for one minute.
  3. Now switch sides and repeat.
While we cannot prevent every issue for them, we can work with them to help build up their skills and help support their individual needs.  We often forget physical activities and how autistic children can be a fantastic tool!

Squeeze Games

  1. Spray bottles are a great way to strengthen the fingers. Having your child help with watering plants or some kitchen cleaning is a great way to use a spray bottle.
  2. Stress balls -Encourage your child to squeeze different strengths of stress balls.

Bear Crawls

Doing this exercise will help in developing your kid’s body awareness. It will also improve motor planning and coordination. This exercise works your kid’s muscles and helps in strengthening your kid’s upper body. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Have your child kneel on all fours. The hands should be under the shoulders, and the knees should be under the hips. 
  • Have them extend their legs until they are slightly bent. Make sure their fingers are spread wide. This will enable optimal contact with the floor. 
  • Make your child walk using their hands and feet across the floor for approximately 10-20 feet.
  • Ask your child to walk backward, maintaining the same position. 
  • You can try switching the speed and direction to get optimal results. 

Star Jumps

A jumping task is a great full-body exercise. This will help improve cardiovascular endurance, increase body awareness, and strengthen the core and legs. 

Star jumps can perform this activity anywhere. You can make your child do the exercise once or do multiple cycles. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  • Your child needs to bend in a squatting position with their knees bent. Their feet should be flat on the floor and arms tucked in an inward direction towards the chest. 
  • Then ask them to jump quickly from the squatting position. Their arms and legs should extend wide into an X. 
  • Make sure that your child lands in a position similar to the starting position, with the legs and arms, tucked in. 
  • Your child can do a repeat cycle of 20 or until they get tired.

Climbing

  1. Climbing is great for hand and shoulder strength and stability. There are so many ways to encourage this type of play. Household stairs or playgrounds are both great options.
  2. Most parks have chin up or gymnastic bars that your autistic child can use for exercise.
  3. You can also install a climbing wall in your home or back yard.

Final Word

Autism affects each child differently, so finding exercises that work best for them is vital. With resources such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and ABA therapy, you can learn all sorts of exercises that work best with your child.

Which exercise did you like the most? Let us know in the comments!

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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