Every once in a while, the Leka Team is happy to welcome external contributors and share their food for thoughts. This post has been written by Lucy Wyndham whose husband is on the spectrum.
Forty percent of children with autism are overweight or obese. In fact, living a sedentary lifestyle can worsen the symptoms of ASD and contribute to additional health problems such as motor impairment, low social skills, and isolation. Other studies reveal that minors with autism have a 36% chance of obesity – often due to the lack of physical exercise – the vital activity that can enhance their quality of life.
As important as it is to create a calming space for your child to play and relax, keeping them active is vital to boosting mental and physical awareness. Exercise has proven to provide benefits for children on the Autism Spectrum in various ways. An exercise routine such as Pilates not only provides the physical benefits of building core strength and balance, but also the social and mental benefits, such as:
- Sensory integration through the use of soothing music and dim lighting
- Boost self-confidence with relaxation techniques
- Increased sense of self-awareness
Here’s how Pilates can help children on the autism spectrum boost their health and well-being.
Promote Weight Loss
Autism is highly related to early childhood obesity, which can turn obesity into more severe illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, as well as joint and bone problems. Autistic children tend to follow unhealthy lifestyles, leading to low levels of fitness and a high risk of weight gain. By following an active lifestyle at a younger age, children will adapt to the routine and maintain a healthy weight.
Establish a Routine
Parents and professionals know how vital routines are for children on the Autism spectrum. Children tend to perform self-stimulatory behaviors as it provides a sense of comfort to their daily tasks. By implementing a physical activity such as Pilates into their lives, they can learn to transition into new routines that they would enjoy.
Enhance Focus & Attention
Autistic children often find trouble staying focused, whether they are at home, outside or in the classroom. One of the main causes is due to the common behaviors that lead to distractions. Through formation and exercise, children will decrease such behavior and improve their overall attention span. In addition, your children will learn to work together as a group, strengthen their listening skills and work as a team to accomplish specific goals.
Getting started may be difficult for your child, especially when they experience new routines. Be sure to start slowly as you introduce them to new fitness activities such as Yoga and Pilates. They may find it helpful to start with long walks and get used to being active in such a comfortable environment. In addition, finding activities they love and have interest in will help them stick with the routine in the long-term.