Participating in school sports has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s development. Research suggests regular participation in organized school-based team sports allows children to receive significant improvements to their health, emotional skills, important social capabilities. Children on the autism spectrum often need assistance building these particular skills, and enrolling in team sports is a fun way to get children involved. Let’s go over some of the benefits of team sports for children with autism.
Improves Physical Health
One of the most significant benefits of participating in sports is that it improves physical health and enhances motor skills and coordination. Encouraging your child to play a sport can significantly improve their health, both now and in the future. More specifically, regular physical activity increases motor skills, improves cardiovascular health, and improves self-stimulatory behaviors. Playing a sport has also been proven to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
Improves Emotional Health
In addition to the physical benefits, there are many emotional benefits to playing team sports. Children who play sports often have better attitude, attention, and concentration than children who do not play sports. Any physical activity prompts the body to release endorphins, which leads to a more positive overall mood. Children on the autism spectrum can struggle with identifying and managing their emotions. Having increased levels of positive emotion leads to improved cognitive functioning, decreases in negative behaviors, and less need for moral support. Playing a structured team sport can lead to better classroom performance and even improved grades.
Improves Social Skills
Being a part of a team gives children a sense of belonging, which is very important for their social development. Children with autism especially have trouble socializing with their classmates and developing meaningful connections. By participating in team sports, children are provided with the opportunity to engage with their peers. This allows them to incorporate the skills they may have learned in therapy, such as greeting others, sharing, following instructions initiating and maintaining conversations, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. No matter their position on the team, each member has a role to play, and through teamwork, they feel valued and important.
Choosing the Right Sport for Your Child
Every child is unique, and they all have different talents and abilities. Team sports that require high levels of communication and cooperation, such as basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, may not be the right fit for a child on the autism spectrum. Instead, look for sports that allow for individual competition. Swimming, track and field, and tennis are all great options for children with autism.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.