The Best Ways to Approach Sports for Children with Autism
Many childhood memories revolve around sports. Whether playing them or just watching them, sports have a way of bringing families together. Every year friends and families across the United States gather in front of the television to watch the Super Bowl. The summer and winter Olympics are another example of sporting events that bring countries together.
It is not just families and nations that sports bring together though. They also play a huge role in the social lives of children as they make their way from kindergarten to college.
Additionally, in a time when so many kids in our country are overweight and struggling with their health, sports and physical activity is becoming increasingly important. Providing children with a fun yet physically challenging game to play can make a huge impact on their health.
For children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), playing sports can be extra challenging.
Most parents look forward to the day when they get to watch their kids chase the soccer ball down the field or score the winning points in basketball. For parents who have their own strong sports background, this can be even more important for them. They want to see their kids fall in love with a sport that played such a crucial role in their own life. They hope that they will have the same opportunity to grow with and form bonds with their teammates. For children with autism, large team sports can be difficult. These types of sports require extensive social interaction, something that is difficult and uncomfortable for children with autism.
Effective communication in all of these sports is essential. You need to be able to call out your location quickly, and request that your teammates pass to you. You have to be able to plan together and strategize. For some people this can be easy. For kids with autism they may not be able to grasp these communication skills so quickly. This does not mean that if your child has autism he or she can never participate in sports. It just means that some extra thought may need to be put into what sport is going to benefit and work for your child the best.
As always, it is important to remember that every child is unique. ASD is called that because it is a spectrum, meaning that every child will be affected differently. As parents you know you child best. You know his or her strengths and weakness as well as interests. Analyzing your child’s unique traits can help you figure out what sport would be the best fit for him or her. If social skills and coordination are huge concerns for you, there are other options. The world is full of activities that your child could excel in. There are also a number of team sports that require less social interaction, but will still give your child exposure to social situations. Hopefully these sports could help him or her develop social skills and form bonds with other children around the same age, without being an overly stressful situation.
Read further to learn more about the best ways to approach sports for children with autism.