Autism: Benefits of sports and Yoga therapy for children

Published: July 25, 2019 6:19:09 PM

Autism in Children: It is very important for parents to make their autistic kids adapt every skill to walk parallel with the advanced world.

autism, autism in children, autism therapy, yoga in autism, sports for autism, autistic children, mom's belief Parents must motivate and inspire their children with special needs to participate in team sports activities as well as yoga.

By Nitin Bindlish

As the awareness of Autism is on the rise, the early identification and detection can help parents to understand the needs of their child diagnosed with Autism. Majority of schools started motivating parents to indulge their kids in several innovative yoga programs and sports to help their child diagnosed with Autism in learning several skills. According to the survey of the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 68 parents, professionals and educators is facing several challenges in supporting their children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in home, school and community environment. To the challenges in being expressive, social and emotional issues, kids with Autism are unable to comprehend and identify different facial expressions of themselves as well as of others along with sensory integration deficits. Many kids diagnosed with Autism also struggle in one or more areas and experience heightened levels of anxiety.

It is very important for parents to make their autistic kids adapt every skill to walk parallel with the advanced world. Yoga and sports area complementary therapy for kids diagnosed with Autism. The combination of two helps in building physical and mental strength, courage, determination and endurance. As every child is unique in their diagnosis, similarly the requirements will also vary. Parents must encourage their kids and look for the ideal Yoga poses and sports which are helpful in leading a better life. Yoga and sports are considered as supplemental support and intervention for children diagnosed with Autism.

According to several studies, benefits of yoga and sports to children with ASD are quite limited but the practice is of significant benefit. It improves the balance, coordination, strength and flexibility physically while also increases body awareness, social-emotional skills, language and communication, self-regulation, focus and concentration. The benefits also include a reduction in impulsiveness, aggression, anxiety, obsession and self-stimulatory behaviours.

Parents must motivate and inspire their children with special needs to participate in team sports activities as well as yoga as both involve connection, cooperation, communication, consideration and compassion, which are helpful in building social skills.

What are the benefits of Yoga and Sports for children with ASD to lead better lives?

YOGA:

  • Yoga brings awareness to actions, facial expressions and social behaviours, about their own emotions and what they are feeling. While breathing strategies teach them how to release difficult emotions like anger, anxiety, and frustration in a healthy and constructive manner
  • Yoga is helpful in reducing high levels of anxiety. Children with special needs can be in a constant state of anxiousness due to sensory integration deficit and find difficulty in communicating. Yoga soothes their nervous systems and helps children to develop coping skills and self-regulation skills
  • Yoga effectively increases the imitation, social-communicative behaviours and cognitive skills. It helps children with Autism exhibit skills of eye contact, sitting tolerance, receptive as well as non-verbal communication skills
  • As autistic children face several difficulties and may show challenging behaviours, Yoga improves behaviours and mood. Different yoga poses provide proprioceptive and vestibular input which supports sensory integration and self-regulation of a child diagnosed with Autism
  • Yoga is a brilliant technique for children with ASD, as it teaches them how to calm themselves. Sharing poses flashcards with parents to use it at home helps them to share a meaningful home activity with their children with Autism

SPORTS:

  • Introduce your children to bowling if he/she does not like to try any outdoor activity. Accompany them to nearby malls and centres on weekdays as there is less crowd. Bowling helps children with ASD to build better body coordination
  • Running is considered as the best physical activity for both children and adults. The long list of benefits includes better breathing, maintains the cholesterol level, make lungs stronger, strengthens the heart and reduces the chances of Diabetes and obesity. Other benefits include muscle development and coordination in the child as it controls aggression, hyperactivity and destructive behaviour
  • Martial arts such as Karate, Judo or Taekwondo helps in improving socializing skills among child diagnosed with ASD as enrolling helps them to bond with peers. Beyond this, martial arts are known for enhancing motor and social skills
  • Water is considered to be the best therapy for kids with Autism. Introduce them to the swimming pool and watch them how they feel when they splash water with their feet

Bottom Line:
The best of all, yoga and sports are helpful in creating a positive sense about themselves and surroundings. Such skills are important for children with ASD to lead better lives ahead and walk hand-in-hand with society.

(The author is Founder and CEO, Mom’s Belief. Views expressed are personal.)

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