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Evaluating the Importance of Extracurricular Activites for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

It is no secret individuals who participate in recreational activities are happier and have a higher quality of life.  Whether it is sports, groups, or clubs; movement, engagement, connection, and community are essential aspects of life.  Many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience restrictions in the range of recreational activities in which they are able to participate.  Some difficulties for children on the spectrum include poor motor skills, sensory sensitivity, emotional regulation, and understanding social cues.  For these reasons, children with autism are often left out due to the belief that they are incapable of participating.

Often children on the spectrum may be resistant to sports and other new activities.  Current research shows that modifying and adapting activities can result in more positive experiences.  Through participation of activities, such as art, karate, basketball, tennis, drama, and dance could potentially increase communication skills, improve focus as well as increase social reciprocity.  In addition, children with autism show decreased stereotypies and self-injurious behaviors while engaged in recreational activities.

Children with autism are often teased and bullied, so they are unable to enjoy extracurricular activities.  Participating in specialized activities developed especially for children on the spectrum will increase confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging. Parents also receive the opportunity to see their child thrive along with have a community of others parents as their support system.

Healing Thresholds; Collaborating to Support Meaningful Participation in Recreational Activities of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder; M.C. Potvin, P.A. Prelock, L. Snider; September 2009

New York Times: A Can-Do Approach to Autistic Children and Athletics (2006)


Contributed by Kids Like Me Director, Nicole Webb

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