Benefits of Recreational Therapy for Children with Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder can be complicated.  The effects are variable in type and severity and oftentimes quite difficult to manage.  Social situations can be particularly difficult and for that reason, many of these children end up missing out on the benefits of physical activities.  Aside from the benefits we all experience from exercise, autistic children also experience significant improvements in social and communication skills when they are enrolled in sports and other physical activity programs.  For this reason, although it is often a challenge, it is especially important to try to involve children in these types of activities.


What is Recreational Therapy?


The main aim of recreational therapy is to improve or maintain physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual functioning in order to facilitate full participation in life. A well-designed recreational program is a wonderful tool to help children gain several different skills while having fun. Overall, these types of programs enhance a child’s quality of life. These are some of the benefits:


  • Motor Skills

Planned physical activity/exercise (swimming, playing football etc.) for children with autism promotes a healthy lifestyle in addition to overcoming barriers such as limited motor functioning, self-monitoring, coordination, endurance and several other challenges he or she may be experiencing.


  • Social Interaction

Children with autism will often have difficulty in social situations. Recreation programs help increase social interaction as these children work and play with an instructor and other children.  There are also goals, rules and certain other social situations that occur in sports that teach children how to socialize appropriately, follow guidelines, etc.


  • Communication

Children are more comfortable communicating their needs with actions. These programs help identify those needs and work to promote healthy ways of communicating in future sessions as well as in everyday life.


  • Areas of Interest

Participating in recreational activities helps a child discover his or her hobbies and interests that they wish to continue in the future.


  • Behavior Management

It can be quite difficult or emotionally challenging for every family that has a child with autism. Recreational programs help understand and address behaviors through positive acts and languages. Families can even learn about how to better interact with their children in these ways.


  • Acquired Skills

Children acquire the skills needed to carry out a functional role within the community. Children will not only learn skills on how to swim or play a particular sport, but they will also learn good sportsmanship, determination, and persistence, following rules and guidelines, leadership, teamwork, and more.


  • Self-Esteem

After a child has mastered a skill, he or she can experience a great sense of accomplishment which leads to confidence that they can carry with them everywhere they go.


How Can I Get my Child Involved?

There are many places worldwide where such programs are readily available and can be found through local autism advocacy groups. However in many areas across the world, these programs are more difficult to locate.  Where we are located, in Nigeria, it can be difficult to find.  However, if you reach out to your local physiotherapist they can help guide you.  At PCA we can work with children individually and in group sessions to help develop all of these critical skills. Give us a call to discuss how we can help your child today.





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