Parents are aware of the growing rate of obesity in children. What many parents are not aware of is that children with autism have a 7% greater rate of obesity than other groups of children. “Physical Activity As a Therapy For Autistic Children” and “Autism Facts: Childhood Obesity Higher in the Autistic Population” are two articles that address the importance of making sure your child with autism stays active. Both articles highlight that most children with autism do not participate in team sports for various reasons. One reason might be the social anxiety of teams or the fear of social contact. Another reason parents of children with autism or any disability might find their child less physically active is the increased security measures the child needs. Many children with disabilities cannot play outside by themselves or go to the park with a friend. An additional cause for higher rates of obesity in children with autism, addressed in the “Obesity” article, is diet. Many children with autism have diet restrictions such as gluten intolerance. If these diets are not followed strictly it can lead to weight gain and moderate to severe digestive problems. Parents' lives can be very chaotic and making sure their child works out and has a strict diet may not be at the top of their minds every day.
So what are the parents of children with autism to do? The “Physical Activity” article recommends to parents to find a good individual sport for their child. Many children with autism benefit from tennis, biking, swimming, skating, horse riding, ext. Each child is different and no one knows a child like their caregivers. The best thing to do is find the form of exercise that each individual child enjoys the most. Once the child finds their niche, not only did the articles find that exercise is good for the health and weight control of the child, but is therapeutic. Sports get out excess energy which leads to improved behavior and focus. Children who battle with sensory input disorders can benefit from the sensory integration sports provide along with gain coordination and confidence. Being the parent of a child with autism can be exhausting but it is important for their child's health and overall happiness to make sure they are getting their exercise. It is also important to make sure the child is adhering to any special diet restrictions to avoid weight gain and future problems in the digestive track.
Here at Colorado Springs Speech Therapy, we find these articles important because they add to the importance of the aquatic speech therapy. The main cause of premature death in children with autism is wondering away and meeting dangers such as drowning. Katey Blehm's swim speech program includes a certified swim instructor to teach the kids to swim. Originally one of the main goals for these lessons was to provide the children with life skills to know what to do if they meet water. With childhood obesity rising, especially in children with disabilities, a new goal for the aquatic therapy is to encourage children to find physical activities that they may want to pursue. Now more than ever this interactive therapy benefits the health of the children. For every session the child is getting half an hour of exercise while their caregivers can relax. If these children like swimming then the parents may know a good option to get their kid active! With education and action we can stop the rising rates of obesity in children with autism and other disabilities.
Articles in Reference:
Mironov, Marina. "Autism Facts: Childhood Obesity Higher in the Autistic Population." EzineArticles. N.p., 22 OCT 2012. Web. 25 Jul. 2013. <http://autismarticles4me.blogspot.com/2011/08/physical-activity-as-therapy-for.html
Mironov, Marina. "Physical Activity As a Therapy For Autistic Children." EzineArticles. N.p., 31 Aug 2011. Web. 25 Jul. 2013. <http://autismarticles4me.blogspot.com/2011/08/physical-activity-as-therapy-for.html