Children with Autism: 4 Important Exercises

Autism is a disorder that affects 1 in 100 children. Children with autism's emotional development can improve with specific activities.
Children with Autism: 4 Important Exercises

Last update: 23 January, 2021

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a chronic, neurobiological dysfunction with a genetic basis that affects the configuration of the nervous system and brain function. Do you know how you can motivate children with autism?

The symptoms are related to social interaction and communication, as well as a lack of flexibility in reasoning. They also include a restriction of interests and behavior. This is evidenced in this study published in the Journal of Neurology. 

However, no two people with this neuropsychiatric syndrome demonstrate the same observable characteristics. Therefore, there are different diagnostic categories depending on the degree of intensity and the ways in which these symptoms manifest.

Next, we’ll bring you a series of exercises or activities that will promote the stimulation of the cognitive abilities of children with ASD.

Exercises for children with autism

A child playing with numbers.

1. Activities with numbers

As this research, published in MMWR Surveillance Summaries, points out, children with autism often have few interests. However, many are especially drawn to numbers. Due to their age, they’re usually not able to understand the reasoning behind the calculations, but they enjoy playing with the objects.

In addition, they’re really fascinated by eye-catching objects, so you can help stimulate their natural interest in numbers by giving them nice-looking toys. An example could be blowing bubbles and having your child count them.

You can also do classification activities based on the different shapes or colors; this will help your little one learn about categories and listing objects. To do this, you can use large LEGO pieces, paintings, small stuffed animals, or balls.

This type of activity broadens children’s interests and encourages them to interact with other people around them. 

2. Music therapy for children with autism

Young students in music class.

Music therapy is a discipline that can help with behavioral development. Musical expression works at a non-verbal language level and promotes communication channels. This is especially true for those who struggle with expressive functions, such as children with autism spectrum disorder.

These activities are focused on promoting emotional development and individual expressions. This is evidenced by this report published in the Cochrane Plus Library in 2008.  So, you and your child can play together in a way that will help your child recognize the sounds of their own body.

For example, their laugh, clap or yawns. Recognition is the first step of controlling. That is why you should sit with your child and repeat the actions that cause those sounds. Then you and your child can work on naming them and giving them meaning.

Another interesting activity is having your child learn a short, repetitive song with you that includes body gestures. The goal is that your little one becomes interested and challenged by trying to learn the song while also enjoying the whole process.

3. Imitation games

A little boy playing with toys.

Reproducing or imitating a certain behavior can better help your child understand the world around them. This can help them develop their social skills. This is demonstrated through this research carried out by professionals from the Ibero-American University of Puebla, Mexico.

It’s important that the activities are accompanied by positive reinforcement. You should also be patient, and not expect your little one to understand on the first try.

One interesting imitation game to try is drawing everyday movements, like combing your hair, brushing your teeth, eating etc, and having your child imitate it. You can also draw animals and teach your child the sound they make.

Next, you could try showing your child drawings of the animals and ask him to make the animals’ sounds and movements.

Since any activity that involving repetition is beneficial, you can also come up with your own activities based on your child’s interests. This will make it even more exciting for your child.

4. Exercise

A father playing with his son.

Physical activity helps to improve psychomotor skills and your child’s relationship with their surroundings. A study carried out by professionals from the University of Burgos, together with staff from the Autism Spain Confederation, shows that physical well-being improves the quality of life of those with autism.

Therefore, the ideal situation would be getting your child outside to exercise with other children. However, if this isn’t possible, you can also create an obstacle course at home with soft toys, or create a treasure hunt that involves running, jumping, bending, and crawling.

It’s important that your little one enjoys these activities so that they don’t lose interest. So, it’s important that you adapt the activities to fit your child’s interests and needs.

We hope these exercises for children with autism will help improve your child’s development and social integration, while also allowing you to spend quality time together.

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