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10 Effective Physical & Mental Fitness Activities For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Here are 10 mental or cognitive activities which can help in the cognitive developmental of a child:

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Many Children with autism spectrum disorders have lower levels of fitness from poor balance body coordination, visual-motor control and other mobility skills. Physical activity programs for children and youth with autism produced various benefits some of which include improving motor skills, skill-related fitness, social functioning and muscular strength and endurance. According to research those children who participated in physical activity programs designed for children with autism showed significant improvements in their social and communication skills.

Some of the activities which can be included are horseback riding, various types of group play, running/jogging programs, some basic skills include running, throwing, catching can be started in the early years followed by personalize physical activity programs to each individual needs and goals.

Here are 10 physical activities for children with autism spectrum disorders.

  1. Walking to school or walking the Dog

  2. Make playgrounds trip a regular activity

  3. Encourage the child to run, jump, hop, skip etc.

  4. May Introduce equipment such as balls, bats, racquets (throw, catch, kick, strike etc.)

  5. Introduce physical activity like Hurdle cross (6 to 8 inches hurdle), Bear Crawl, to throw a ball overhead, resistance band rotation on either side, burpees, Star Jumps etc. these exercises can have 5 to 10 repetitions of each. These activities help develop listening skills, discrimination between movements and cues, and balance. 

  6. Individual sports like swimming, gymnastics, jogging can help with integrated sensory system, develop a routine and better physical endurance.

  7. Group Sports like table tennis, Long tennis, baseball, basketball etc. can help child develop better social skills, shall help the child make friends and feel more confident.

  8. YOGA can be an excellent way to help child learn good balance, coordination, instruction following and flexibility. 

  9. May Introduce social skill training during a sport where good behaviors can be positively reinforced

  10. Dancing can be a unique way where child will learn starting and stopping to cues, taking turns and it can be a very enjoyable activity as children on ASD love music.


The physical activities not only help a child with motor balance, coordination, strength and endurance but it also builds confidence, makes a child happy and is very important for good mental Health.

Here are 10 mental or cognitive activities which can help in the cognitive developmental of a child:

1)Matching objects,
2) Spot the difference,
3) Count the objects,
4) Puzzles, 1-5 piece puzzles, fixing puzzles, jigsaw puzzles
5) Playing with building blocks, helping child build,
6)Memory cards,
7)Sorting by color, shape, sizes,
8)Peak-a-boo,
9)Lost and found,
10) Matching 2D pictures with 3D shapes etc.

These mental activities can enhance perception, thinking, memory, attention, language, problem-solving, and learning. More importantly all these physical and mental fitness activities help the child bond well with the caregiver, understands rules of games, learn to share and wait for their turn, helps to understand the social cues and also helps to make friends, reduces anxiety and become happier and more accepted.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Dr Himani Narula Khanna

Co Founder of Continua Kids & Developmental Pediatrician

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