SpectrumNews.org, an organization that provides news and analysis of breakthroughs in autism research, recently reported on physical activity as it relates to autism therapy, and how it is sometimes overlooked.

Movement Based Autism Therapies Improve Academic Performance

An improvement in attention, social communication skills, behavioral problems, and academic performance were noted in patients that had physical activity regiments as part of their behavioral therapy. The article reports the findings that many autistic children don’t usually enjoy role-playing, and would prefer to be alone. Playing imaginative games and interacting with peers is a large part of how children learn social skills; exercise therapy helped children learn and improve social skills like role-playing, turn-taking, and verbal and nonverbal communication.

Physical Activity Reduced Autistic Children’s Aggression

The Director of the Autism Research Institute, Dr. Stephen M. Edelson, declared that vigorous exercise (aerobic workouts of 20 minutes or longer, 3-4 times per week) lowers autistic people’s proneness to self-stimulating behaviors, aggression, hyperactivity, destructiveness, and self-injury.

Exercise Therapy Improved Children’s Motor Skills and Engagement

Beginning movement and exercise programs at a young age improve smotor function and infuses kids with the skills and confidence to participate in athletic activities later in life. Since autistic children are twice as likely to be overweight, and 5 times more likely to be obese,  establishing active and fun habits is paramount for parents of autistic children that want to see their kids grow up happy and healthy.

Read more about the benefits that incorporating exercise therapy can have on individuals with autism and other sensory processing disorders here