Some sports can be challenging for kids with autism. That doesn't mean autistic kids should stay away from physical activity, but it is important to help your child to choose sports that they are likely to enjoy and excel at. Autism creates specific challenges when it comes to sports, but it also opens up some exciting possibilities.
Team Sports That May Be a Poor Match
While there are always exceptions to the rule, cooperative team sports such as soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and hockey may be particularly tough for your autistic child. That's because:
All that said, however, many groups are eager to provide autistic children with opportunities to take part in team sports "just like everyone else." If your child seems interested, you may want to look into special needs sports teams such as those created by the Challenger Club, which offers opportunities designed specifically for kids with challenges and disabilities.
- Teams are all about social communication, and playing team sports requires advanced social communication skills. Autism is a disorder in which those skills are compromised. So it can be tough for autistic kids to fit into a team, communicate well with team members, or predict what another team member is likely to do.
- Team sports that require ball or puck handling also require a high level of strength and coordination. Autism often goes along with lowered muscle tone and problems with coordination. As a result, autistic children may have a tough time playing well.
- Team sports are often played in environments that are very hot, cold, loud, or bright. Most children with autism have sensory challenges that make loud noise, bright lights, and temperature extremes difficult to handle. The outcome can be a very unhappy or even uncooperative child.
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