Activities and Exercises for Kids with Autism

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 Circles

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

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

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.

Star Jumps

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.

Sorting Snacks

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.

Vegetable Painting

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.

Calming Activities

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.

Dealing with Outsiders in Autism

Autism Sign

Everyone has the right to explore the world, visit public places, use public transportation, and be an active community member. But while some disabilities are apparent to people, autism does not necessarily show up on the surface.

Strangers assume that for autistic people dealing with this world is no different than that for a typical child. Except that it mostly isn’t and when they are held to the same standards as a normal person, it leads to stressful situations for the autistic child.

If you speak with the parents of an autistic child, they’ll surely tell you at least one incident of a passer-by who told them to handle their misbehaving youngster or gave them a strange look. Most people assume that the child is naughty and don’t think that disability could be the reason behind their unnatural behavior.

What Problems Are Mostly Faced?

Therapist drawing with child with autism.

Public places present many challenges for children with this disability. Autism creates extra difficulties which makes coping extremely hard as they do not understand appropriate social behavior and what’s normal for them looks strange to others. People don’t appreciate the difference.

Sensory sensitiveness often promotes behaviors that are shocking to outsiders. Children with autism lick or sniff their parents out of love and innocence and the parents are aware of it, but if a stranger is liked or sniffed in the same manner, they are likely to be startled and react in an unfriendly manner.

Eating issues often create trouble in public gatherings. There are several taboos related to food and for children with autism, it can be difficult to observe them all. For instance, taking food from someone else’s plate is considered bad manners but a child with autism would not be able to understand that.

Often people with ASD are not able to manage their voices. It is common for autistic people to speak too loud, and sound hostile or angry even when it is not the case. This makes people think that a person is being aggressive or rude deliberately when he or she is only trying to communicate in the best way possible.

We deal with family and friends differently than how we interact with strangers. But for children with ASD, it is hard to understand this difference. Some children with autism will hug strangers to demonstrate their friendliness, but the strangers are not pleased when such things happen as they find it offensive.

Children with ASD often suffer from high anxiety. In a busy or new place, they may quickly lose control and exhibit behaviors that people consider challenging. For parents, managing such behaviors in public can be very difficult.

Parents of a child with ASD realize that even when they do their best, people who do not understand autism will judge them and blame them for their child’s condition. What’s good parenting for children with autism is very different than what is considered good parenting for a normal child: they have different so needs are met differently, too.

Should You Explain?

There have been some serious debates about whether or not you should tell people about your child’s autism disorder and explain that it is the reason for their actions. If you tell them, it would neutralize the wrong assumption about you being bad at parenting. If your child is experiencing a meltdown, people will back off to let you handle it instead of giving you unwanted advice.

On the other hand, you may think that the condition of your child is nobody else’s business and you should not have to provide everyone a medical record. You may not even be in any mood to get involved with others as you’re already worried about your child’s condition.

It all comes down to what you decide. You may think differently on certain occasions and whatever decision you make, just remember the wellbeing of your child should always be your focus, so go ahead with what best supports your child.

Any Resources that Can Help?

Special cards are printed by the “National Autistic Society” which can be used in case of emergencies to make people aware of your child’s condition.

Unfortunately, for you to manage your feelings there isn’t much official helping material available. It can be challenging to manage a child with ASD, but you should never give up as your child needs your love and support to survive in this harsh world.


Finding and Keeping a Job with Autism

Autistic ChildAutism – A most misunderstood disease. Fact is that people with autism are a great asset to society and should be treated with the same respect as the rest of us, but there are those who just don’t understand the disease and tend to shy away from them.

With that said, what happens when someone with autism spectrum disorder completes his or her education and steps into the real ‘adult’ world? How smooth is this transition and what can be done to aid those facing difficulties due to ASD? 

Autism and Difficulty in Finding Meaningful Employment

It’s difficult for everyone to find and keep meaningful employment. Rising competition and demands from employers regarding experience and educational qualifications has made it impossible for Americans to find decent jobs. Imagine how much harder it must be for people with autism.

Let’s see the numbers:

Only 39 to 42 percent of clients (with ASD) take help from the United States vocational rehabilitation system found jobs between 2002 and 2006. Additionally, many individuals who are employed have trouble retaining their position (most are overqualified for their jobs).  

Another research conducted in 2013 found only about 53% of young adults with autism had even worked outside of their homes in the first 8 years after secondary education. Moreover, only 1 in 5 worked for a minimum age or less with aspirations of a better job or career.

Another point of interest is the difference between younger individuals coming from a low economic background compared to older people coming from a higher income household. Not only are those individuals high functioning in society but are more likely to find a job and advance in the position.

Helping You Find Good Career Prospects – One Step at a Time

Autism isn’t and shouldn’t be a hindrance to individuals facing this learning disability. Most autistic individuals are responsible, dependable, honest hard-workers who will never let you down. You can find companies that hire here and Howard Fensterman is a philanthropist who can offer help to autistic individuals when it comes to finding and retaining good employees. 

Following are some steps that can be taken to start the process:

Create a List of Strengths

Writing down all skills and strengths in a list helps get clear perspective about what the individual is good at doing. Next comes listing down dream jobs as well as jobs that you won’t have any trouble doing. Try to match possible job leads to your strengths.  

Other steps to take are:

  • Make a list of all contacts that could help with the job search. Having a good personal network is better than any other. Start with your family, friends, neighbors and other people who know you.
  • Consider joining job search and social networking websites. This will help you increase your contact list.

The rest of us can help make it easier for individuals with learning disabilities to not only find good jobs but become better functioning members of society. It would be a win-win both for you as an employer and the person working for you!


Researchers Diagnose Autism in Children Using Smartphone, Tablet Games

Autism Child with iPad
Photo from Autism Partnership

Games on tablets and smartphones may be used to track player hand movement and identify children who might have autism, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

While early diagnosis and intervention are the best chances to improve health and economic gain for people with autism, diagnosis remains complex and difficult to obtain. The instruments of these evaluations are time consuming and clinically demanding, and a diagnosis can be withheld for years because of wait-list times.

Recent Study Using Technology for Autism Diagnostics

Recently, experts have identified that motor disturbance can be a new way to create assessments of autism spectrum disorder development.

“Motor patterns related to autism can be identified by machine learning from iPad game play in children between three and six years old,” the authors determined. “This motor signature appears to be predominantly derived from differences in pressure going into the device as well as differences in gesture kinematics and form.”

Results of the Study

The researchers have expanded on those findings and reasoned that sensors in tablets and touch screen sensor technologies could capture information about children’s motor patterns.

They set about testing if they could identify autism-specific motor patterns as children engaged with an iPad mini and played 2 different games. A total of 82 children between the ages of 3 and 6 were assessed. The researchers showed that children with autism can be identified with up to 93% accuracy using the analysis of motor patterns in iPad game play.

“It is not social, emotional, or cognitive aspects of the game play that identify autism,” Dr. Jonathan Delafield-Butt, one of the researchers and a senior lecturer in child development, told BBC News. “Rather, the key difference is in the way children with autism move their hands as they touch, swipe and gesture with the iPad during the game.

In addition to being a fun way of testing for autism, these games are cheaper and faster than the traditional ways of diagnosing autism spectrum disorder.

“These data support the notion disruption to movement is core feature of autism, and demonstrate autism can be computationally assessed by fun, smart device game play,” the authors concluded.

Identifying the Early Signs of Autism

The range and severity of symptoms in autism spectrum disorder can vary widely. However, there are common symptoms, such as difficulty with communication, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors.

Distinctions in Social Behavior

Deficits in social behavior is one very common symptom of autism. These defects often take the form of reduced eye contact, reduced showing of objects, reduced pointing, reduced following a speaker’s line of gaze, and other issues. As children with autism grow older, other social abnormalities, such as reductions in reciprocal social interaction and difficulty identifying and interpreting others’ emotions, often become apparent.

Early Detection

Identifying autism early, ideally before 18 months, can make a difference. But being able to catch autism early, means understanding autism and being able to identify early signs. Parents should keep an eye on when their child hits key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones. Developmental delays could indicate a heightened risk for autism.

Identifying Deficiency in Communication Skills in Young Children

Regression of communication skills is a serious warning sign. Children may start to develop communication skill, and then regress. This usually occurs between 12 and 24 months. Children who started to speak may stop entirely. Children who started playing social games, such as peek-a-boo, patty cake, or waving goodbye may stop doing so.

Infants with autism spectrum disorder won’t exhibit normal behaviors, such as responding to cuddling, reaching out to be picked up, or looking at their mothers when being fed. Early signs also include babies and toddlers who don’t smile when they are smiled at, don’t respond to their names or familiar voices, don’t follow objects visually or a gesture when someone points things out, don’t imitate movements and facial expressions, don’t play with other people, and don’t ask for help or make other basic requests.

Determining Autism in Older Children

In older children, red flags get more diverse but they still typically revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, nonverbal communication difficulties, and inflexible behavior. Older children will appear disinterested in what’s going on around them; will have difficulty playing or making friends; will prefer not to be touched or held; won’t play pretend games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways; and will seem aloof and detached from others.

Behaviors that may indicate autism is the repetition of the same actions or movements over and over again, which is known as self-stimulatory behaviors. Examples of these behaviors include hand flapping, rocking back and forth, snapping fingers, spinning objects, repeating words or noises, and watching moving objects.

What Is Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder?

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Unlike many health conditions, autism, a disorder that involves abnormal development and function of the brain, is unique in that it is considered a spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) results in difficulties in social interaction and in verbal and nonverbal communication. ASD is also characterized by the presence of repetitive movements, such as hand flapping or body rocking, an insistence on sameness, and a resistance to change. In some cases, people with ASD show behaviors of aggression or self-injury.

Brief History

Prior to 2013, autism disorders were recognized as distinct subtypes, such as autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Asperger syndrome. However, in 2013, the DSM-5 diagnostic manual merged all of these disorders under the umbrella diagnosis of ASD.

Major Brain Structure Implicated in Autism
Major Brain Structure in Autism

ASD is associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination, and attention and physical health issues. However, some people with ASD do excel in specific areas, such as music, math or art. Not all individuals with autism have cognitive impairments and some have typical or even above average IQs.

While signs of ASD don’t emerge until between ages 2 and 3, the roots of ASD appear to be in early brain development. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that around 1 in 68 children in the United States are identified as being on the autism spectrum. Autism was first characterized in 1943 by Leo Kanner. At the time, the prevalence of autism was thought to be 1 out of every 2,000 children.

Source of Autism

While the prevalence of autism has increased in the US, there is no established explanation for the rise in ASD, but improved diagnosis and awareness may be one explanation, according to Autism Speaks. The popular theory that vaccines cause autism has been disproven by numerous studies conducted worldwide, confirmed the Autism Science Foundation.

While the cause of autism is unknown, researchers have determined that autism is a strongly inherited disorder. For example, scientists have found that if one identical twin has autism then there is an 80% to 90% chance that the other twin will be diagnosed with ASD. Among non-identical twins, the chance drops drastically to just 3% to 10% that both twins will develop ASD. The chance that siblings will both be effects is also around 3% to 10%.