Routine Basic Exercise for people with autism.
Many of the activities which we perform in everyday life are possible because of the physical skills and developments which we adopt in our early childhood. Over time these are generalised to cover a host of possibilities that enable us to perform various physical tasks.
However, this is not the case for those who struggle with autism. The gross motor imbalances that plague them in childhood often affect their posture, gait and their ability to perform more complex movements like pulling, climbing running and so on.
A good proactive way to help this situation will be engaging autistic children in basic routine exercises that stretch relevant muscles so that they can develop normally. These exercises should typically involve several muscle groups that aid in the execution of big movements.
Not an easy task given that autistic children abhor changes in their routines. But the rewards are worth it.
Here are a few basic stretches involving balls that are sure to allow your child have fun while taking part in these crucially important muscle-developing activities:
1. Grab Ball Complex
Position: The athlete stands in front of the parent or instructor. Spot markers can be used for spatial awareness.
Routine: The parent should hold the ball at different positions before the athlete so that they have to bend, reach and rotate to grab it. One or two hands can be used and the positions of the ball can be made irregular or in sequence.
2. Hurdle Step-overs
Positions: The athlete stands before hurdles that are placed 1 inch to 6 inches above the ground.
Routine: The athlete should step over the hurdle at each height without bending his knees and also while looking forward. The hurdles can be placed in random order and not necessarily in ascending or descending order.
If the athlete’s knees bend in or out, the parent or instructor could use physical cues such as touching the knee or holding a hand next to the foot for support.
3. Bear Crawls
Position: Begin with the hands and knees on the floor
Routine: The athlete should extend his feet out backwards until they are only slightly bent. From this position they can move either forward, backward, or sideways over designated areas. The speed of movement can even be altered to charge up the routine.
Bear crawls are great because they develop body awareness and kinaesthetic awareness. They are also beneficial for trunk strength, motor planning and shoulder stability.
4. Star Jumps
Position: The athletes should begin in a squatting position with their elbows tucked in towards their knees.
Routine: On the instructor’s or parent’s cue the athlete should jump up with arms and legs stretched out, and then return to the squatting position upon landing. Repeat until fatigue is evident or till a suitable number of repetitions have been done.
These star jumps backwards or forwards and also to the left or the right for more advanced athletes.
All the exercises outlined above easily fall into the category of playtime while performing the all-important task of working all the key muscle groups.
Do you know any other fun exercises that can be beneficial to autistic children? Leave us a comment below!