Autism is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and socially interact with others. This serious developmental ailment can progress and appear in many different ways and cases. Awareness of this disorder and how to communicate with an individual with autism can result in a successful and comfortable interaction.
According to autismspeaks.org, an estimated one out of 42 boys and one in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States. This is a pretty wide spectrum of children diagnosed with the disorder, and it’s important to try to help them have the same opportunities as others.
Physical activity, especially among a team, can have a positive impact on an individual with autism. Exercising alone is beneficial for people with or without disabilities because it promotes a healthy mentality and physique.
According to autismspeaks.org, promoting a healthy lifestyle like this can benefit those with autism in unique ways. The website’s research suggests that autistic behaviors such as body rocking, hand flapping, spinning, head-nodding, and object tapping can be controlled with exercise. These symptoms can interfere with positive social behavior and learning. Additionally, negative aspects like aggressive and self-injurious behavior are less likely when exercising.
For those with autism, participating in team sports can provide a great opportunity for social interactions with teammates and can help with recognizing social cues for successful interactions on and off the field.
Even those with autism who cannot participate in team sports can find benefits with individual sports, such as running or swimming. This way, individuals with autism can form relationships with their coaches or trainers and essentially feel like they have a role somewhere in society that may not have existed without sports participation.
If you or a loved one are diagnosed with autism, research and experiment with different sports to see which one could be a good fit. Even performing something as simple as walking around the neighborhood could have a positive impact. Everyone deserves the same opportunities, and being a part of a team is one of those opportunities.
Not only is participating in sports a great way to interact with peers, but it is also a chance to just have fun. It’s all about teamwork, and being able to contribute to one can benefit more than one person in the long run.
Whether it’s on a team or with a personal trainer, physical activity for those with autism can be an important step in the right direction for social interaction and communication. It is an easy, healthy, and overall mentally beneficial way to help those with autism function in a social setting and to also stay active and healthy.
How to Help
Helping an individual with autism on your sports team to feel more comfortable can be accomplished in many ways. Here are some suggestions to ensure everyone on your team is comfortable and having fun playing sports.
Tone of Voice
This is the way something is said that can add meaning to what you are saying. Some autistic people have trouble with their tone of voice and can be easily misunderstood in a social interaction. Keep in mind your tone of voice when instructing them on playing for the team.
Some people on the autism spectrum have trouble adapting to informal or slang language we often use on a daily basis. During social interaction try to use formal and complete words and sentences.
Ensure eye contact when you are speaking to or spoken to by your teammate with autism. Eye contact can show people that you are giving them your attention and interest when they are speaking. Some people on the autism spectrum have trouble with eye contact, so adapt to what makes them the most comfortable.
It important to recognize their feelings so that you can respond to them accordingly and beneficially. Often times an individual with autism can become frustrated because they cannot understand social cues, so learn to recognize and understand how to comfort and help them on the team.
Written by: Alex Dunn