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Exercise and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a more difficult time interacting with the outside world than other kids. They have difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, social perception and relationships, and creative play, among other things (variable interests and behaviours).

Since children with ASD also struggle to connect and/or communicate in social situations, as well as have repeated patterns of behaviour and desires, it can be difficult for them to participate in healthy lifestyle interventions. Exercise can help manage the harmful health effects of inactivity on mental health, as well as a variety of Autism-related symptoms.

The effects of motor function and physical activity, as well as reductions in repetitive, stereotyped, and self-injurious behaviours, and changes in cognition, are all supported by research. Exercise has been shown to improve or lead to treatment success, behaviour management, academic achievement, as well as offer holistic health benefits and reduce the health risk associated with in-activity.

What are the advantages of exercise?

Exercise interventions led to a 37% increase in ASD effects, specifically behavioural and academic improvement, according to studies. In a study published in 2018, researchers found that children with ASD who were given an exercise intervention twice a week for 48 weeks saw a substantial reduction in their Autism-related symptoms. Reductions in stereotypical behaviour patterns and changes in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills were especially beneficial. Parent evaluations of their child's quality of life improved dramatically in relation to the control group, according to the same survey. Depending on the severity of the ASD, various forms of exercise can be used.

Improvements in behaviour

For children and adolescents with ASD, moderate to intense activity has been shown to reduce repetitive behaviour. Exercise is a desirable treatment for reducing self-stimulatory behaviour (SSB) because it is inexpensive and simple to implement, and the added health benefits of exercise can help children and adolescents with ASD improve their quality of life. A Certified Exercise Physiologist will help children and families find the right exercise for them and build an exercise routine that they can follow regularly.

Exercise can be viewed as an antecedent strategy that can help deter harmful behaviours from happening by lowering the desire to engage in the behaviour. This can have long-term benefits, such as enhancing healthy behaviours and preventing the development of unhealthy behaviours, in addition to the workout session.

Health and wellbeing improvements

Improvements in aerobic fitness and muscle power, coordination and motor planning, balance, and constructive involvement in physical activity are all advantages of involving individuals with ASD in an individually structured exercise program. Exercise can help with both gross and fine motor skills. This is important because weak motor skills, such as problems with motor control and balance, can restrict a child's activity options and lead to a less active lifestyle.

Working with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist will help you prepare an exercise schedule to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary behaviour, and live a more active and balanced life.

At ECM we have a range of Psychologists, Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists, who specialise in Austim and Behavioural Management, for more information on our services relating to Autism and how we can help you, click here.

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