Best Group Fitness Activities for Children With Autism

best group fitness activities for children with autism

 

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Unfortunately, children with autism can become isolated pretty easily. Although the disability is becoming more widely recognized, those who are on the spectrum are still in the minority. It’s rare for there to be two children with autism in one class for example. Children with autism are also more likely to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, becoming more unhealthy overtime, as they begin to fixate on certain TV shows and video games and snack on foods with saturated fats and high sodium levels. The best way to remedy both of these problems is to get your child involved in sports and group activities. Here are the best group fitness activities for children with autism from the experts at Special Strong.

 

Baseball for Beginners

Baseball can be an excellent choice for individuals starting out with an active lifestyle. The sport is ideal for beginners as it involves a limited amount of running, making it a great choice for those who might not be quite ready for the intensity of other team sports. This can especially cater to children who are new to the active world of sports. Additionally, baseball can serve as a fantastic opportunity to socialize and bond with peers.

What’s comforting is that there’s plenty of support available for newcomers. In most localities, finding a special needs baseball team isn’t too hard, and these teams are specifically designed to help beginners navigate the sport comfortably. Team members receive guidance from a coach or instructor, who can support with practical tasks such as how to maneuver the bat, or comprehend which direction to run. This ensures players see progress at a pace that suits them, making every session a fun and positive experience.

Basketball for Children on the Spectrum

Basketball can be an exciting, rewarding sport for children who are on the autism spectrum, particularly those with strong body awareness. Compared to other team sports, basketball teams tend to be smaller, which can be beneficial for children who might feel overwhelmed by larger groups. Of course, parents and guardians are the best judge of what activities best fit their children’s triggers. It’s important not to force participation, and to take into account the comfort and enjoyment your child gets from playing. Choosing the right group fitness activity can play an instrumental part in your child’s journey with sports.

Golf for Diverse Needs

Golf is a versatile sport that caters to players from all parts of the autism spectrum. Known for its relaxed, slow pace, golf is suitable for those who might not yet be ready for high-intensity sports. But don’t be mistaken – it also requires a lot of walking, particularly if you choose to forgo the golf cart.

In addition, golf is a sport that requires high levels of concentration and attention to detail. This can serve as a fun challenge for those who might need it, and give them a sense of accomplishment. If you’re worried about your child feeling overwhelmed with a big group, you can easily modify the group size by making it smaller.

Community golf teams can also be a great option to consider. Being part of a team fosters camaraderie and friendship among peers while enjoying an active lifestyle. These teams can acclimatize your child to a new set of faces, preparing them for more social interactions in the future.

Yoga

Children with autism often have balancing issues because many people with autism also have issues with the vestibular system (located in the inner ear). Yoga can be challenging but also beneficial in learning balancing techniques. Many yoga postures are also compressive, which can be a pleasant feeling for your child with sensory issues. Another great thing about yoga is that there’s little to no interaction with others during the class, but there can be time for visiting after. This is great for children who are overwhelmed easily be interacting with strangers.

 

Bowling

Bowling is another slow-paced group activity that could really open up your child with autism. It could open them up to new friendships and to a new way to stay active. Bowling is a low-stress game that can still be a low level workout because you have to control a weighted ball at various angles in order to play. Try it with your kid and see if they like it!

 

Martial Arts

Similar to yoga but to a lesser degree, martial arts classes allow for limited engagement with others while class is in session. Martial arts stresses individual triumphs, rather than teamwork. While your child is working independently on themselves, however, they still have the opportunity to make new friends from their class after each lesson.

 

Hiking & Biking Groups

Engaging in outdoor group activities can provide particularly significant benefits to children with autism since these activities stimulate so many of their senses. The breeze on their skin, the warmth from the sun, the feeling of their bodies working to move them from one place to another, the scenery — all work together for a fun group activity. Just join a hiking group or biking group in your area!

 

Dance Classes

The type of team involvement will vary depending on what type of dance class you sign your child up for. For example, ballet involves quite a bit of cooperation and teamwork, as everyone has to move together to make the dance tell a story. However, hip hop dance classes can be more individual. Consider your kid’s triggers and interests when choosing the right dance class for them.

 

Swimming

Swimming can be a great group activity for children with autism. It’s a full-body workout that offers both cardio and resistance training. If you’re child doesn’t know how to swim, you can sign them up for a class, which can be a great opportunity for them to make new friends. Do a quick search and see if there are any special needs swimming groups in your area.

 

Special Olympics

Of course, the Special Olympics is a unique opportunity to merge fitness and connect with other children who have special needs. The Special Olympics is open to all ages, and it’s a really rewarding experience. We tailor each sport to the ability level of each child, celebrating their strengths over their “weaknesses.” The Special Olympics provides more than just a great workout; it creates a sense of community that lasts far beyond the season.

Benefits of Group Fitness Activities for Children With Autism

Engaging children with autism in group fitness activities brings forth a multitude of benefits that extend beyond physical well-being, contributing to their overall development. Group fitness fosters social interaction, providing a structured and supportive environment for children to cultivate essential social skills. Through collaborative exercises, they learn cooperation, turn-taking, and communication, enhancing their ability to navigate social dynamics.

The sensory-rich nature of group fitness activities aligns with the diverse sensory profiles often seen in children with autism. Varied movements and exercises cater to different sensory needs, promoting sensory integration and aiding in self-regulation. Moreover, the routine and predictability inherent in group fitness sessions offer a comforting sense of structure, fostering a feeling of security for children who often thrive on routine.

Beyond physical health, group fitness activities contribute to improved motor skills, coordination, and body awareness. The positive social experiences gained from these activities can extend beyond the fitness setting, positively impacting relationships in various aspects of the child’s life. In essence, group fitness emerges as a holistic approach, addressing physical, social, and sensory aspects, enriching the lives of children with autism.

Group Fitness Classes

Children interested in general fitness (for weight loss, strength training, or just to stay healthy) can achieve their goal and make new friends through participating in group fitness classes. At Special Strong, we offer group fitness classes in the way of boot camp (which sounds hard, but is just the right amount of challenging!). We work with children as young as eight. Sign up today for the best group fitness activities for children with autism.

Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. Start your own Special Strong gym franchise today and create a lasting impact on your community.