As a parent, you want your child to be successful in all fields of life. Children with autism usually struggle to communicate, are shy in public, and are known to have repetitive behaviors.
In order for them to improve their communication and social skills, there are different activities and exercises that could be practiced with them. It would help them learn to pick up on social cues, be empathetic, and learn basic life skills, which would assist them in reaching their academic potential.
Research has also proved that vigorous actions can lead to a decrease in stereotypical behaviors, violent behaviors, and hyperactivity in kids with autism. It can help promote body awareness, coordination, endurance, and strength. It’s not only better for social interactions, but aids in weight loss and improved overall health.
Activities and Exercises for Kids with Autism
We have listed a bunch of fun activities and exercises that you could do at your home with your child to help them develop their skills.
Keep in mind that while carrying out these practices, you must stay calm and show your support to them. Encourage them to use positive reinforcement, and use verbal or physical cues to guide them with the actions and to prevent them from being upset and frustrated.
Arm-circle is an exercise that helps to decrease repetitive behaviors in children with autism, like clapping or arm flapping. It involves the upper body, which increases strength and flexibility in the shoulders and back. The best part is that it can be done anywhere without the requirement of any additional equipment.
First, stand in a position with your feet shoulder-width apart with the arms by your side. Stick your arms out straight to the sides, keeping them at shoulder level. Start to make small circles with your hands while keeping the arms in the same position. Slowly start to make bigger circles, causing the movement from the shoulders. Do this 20 times in both directions.
Bear crawls assist in developing body awareness, improving coordination, and motor planning. It strengthens the trunk and the upper body.
Begin by kneeling on your hands, spreading your fingers, and knees, with your legs extended in such a way that they are slightly bent. Walk on all-fours across the room for about 10 to 20 feet. Then try doing the same thing while walking backward. You can change the speed and direction for better results.
Medicine Ball Slams
Throwing medicine balls helps promote inner strength and balance. It also assists in improving coordination. It might result in a therapeutic effect, and stimulate brain centers while improving short-term memory.
Stand while holding a medicine ball in both your hands and raise it over your head, keeping your arms straight. Slam it down to the floor with all the force. Bend at your knees to pick up the ball and do this 20 times.
Mirror exercises help to improve body awareness, social skills, and coordination as it involves a child mimicking the other person.
Stand in front of your child with your hands at the sides. Start to move your arms, making slow circular movements, and gradually progress to complex patterns. Ask your child to copy your actions when they feel ready, in a manner that it seems like mirroring your movement. Touch hands for added feedback and continue this for about two minutes. Involve other body parts and repeat it three to five times.
Jumping engages the entire body, which is why it improves cardiovascular endurance and body awareness, and it helps to strengthen the legs and core. It can be done anywhere, once or multiple times.
Start by squatting, keeping your feet flat on the floor, with your knees bent, and arms tucked in towards the chest. Jump up from that position, stretching both arms and legs wide, making an X. When you land back, get back into the squatting position and repeat it at least 20 times.
This activity helps children with autism to learn math.
You can use snacks of different colors, shapes, sizes, or textures and ask your child to group similar ones together according to different characteristics. It could also be used to teach them basic math functions such as counting, addition, or subtraction. Let them eat the snack as a reward for doing well on the task.
Using vegetables as paint stamps is a fun art activity that helps to develop their senses of touch and sight.
Cut out slices of vegetables like okra, bell peppers or cucumbers, and hand them out to your kid with a cup of paint. Teach them to dip the bottom part of the vegetable slice in the paint and then press it on a piece of paper. The child would enjoy the colorful patterns of the vegetables, and could even finger paint to make it more decorative. You can display these art pieces prominently in your home to help boost your child’s confidence.
As kids with autism can sometimes be sensitive to sights, sounds, or other sensory information, you need activities that would help them calm down.
Tactile toys can help your child relax when stressed and can help to neutralize overwhelming emotions. Hand them toys like stress balls, play dough, fidget toys, weighted blankets or aromatherapy pillows.
Before starting any activity or doing any exercise, make sure you consult with your doctor first. Also, ensure that the child is well-rested and hydrated. Start off at a low intensity, and slowly work your way up. Keep monitoring the child, so they are not overworked at any point.