Sports have long been an integral part of this nation’s culture. Basic motor abilities and social skills can be strengthened when a child participates in sports and physical activities. However, soccer, football, baseball, hockey, basketball, and other team sports require an ample amount of social communication as well as complex coordination between players (Rudy, 2014). This can be challenging for many on the autism spectrum, who often have difficulty in these areas.
Even though balance may take some time mastering, biking can be a great sport as well as an important means of transportation for those on the autism spectrum (Rudy, 2014). Track and cross-country can be perfect outlets as well. These activities require limited verbal communication and allow athletes to hyper-focus on one objective at a time, an area of strength among many with ASD.
While these are primarily individual pursuits, competing individually benefits some on the autism spectrum. In swimming, for example, participants compete individually and have the opportunity to increase their attention span and build social skills.
Overall, structured activities can be a great way for children with ASD to stay physically in shape while honing old as well as learning new skills. Martial arts, although not a sport in the traditional sense, allows participants to engage in physical interaction with others while building coordination and self-esteem.
For any child, parents and coaches play an important role in finding the sport or other activity that is the best fit. Some children on the autism spectrum are withdrawn and nonverbal while others are more readily engaged ("Autism and Swimming: Children with Autism Can Benefit From Physical Activity"). With the proper training and guidance, these children will not only learn the sport and build upon skills, they will have fun doing it.
Autism and swimming: children with autism can benefit from physical activity. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://superswimmersfoundation.org/Autism-and-Swimming.htm
Rudy, L. (2014, May 6). Sports for kids with autism. Retrieved from http://autism.about.com/od/childrenandautism/p/sportsideas.htm