Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

See article on sports for children with autism in new Autism Spectrum Quarterly magazine

August 29, 2010

Jason McElwain, who has autism, scored 20 points in four minutes in a high school basketball game in 2006. AP Photo/Eric Sucar.

One of my articles has been published in the new issue of Autism Spectrum Quarterly magazine.  It’s about sports and exercise for children with autism, and how sports can help kids improve their social and cognitive skills.

A high functioning child with autism may be able to play in a typical league with help from a “shadow,” or a child can participate in organizations like Special Olympics or Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN).  Even playing catch during play dates can be a start.

Sports can be a great way to help kids with autism make friends, improve communication, and above all, have fun.

Here’s a sample of the article:

Four years ago, Jason McElwain, a teenager with autism, became an overnight sensation by scoring 20 points in four minutes of action in a high school basketball game. . . . Regardless of whether children with autism are high functioning like McElwain, or are less advanced cognitively, playing sports can have profound effects on several aspects of their lives. For example, sports can help kids with autism gain confidence, improve social skills, and develop better coordination. Improvements in balance and motor planning skills often go hand in hand with progress in cognitive function, academic achievement, and organizational skills.


Soccer drills for children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities should be easy, fun

July 4, 2010

With the U.S. soccer team advancing to the second round of the World Cup last month, soccer got a bump in interest in the U.S.

Though the U.S. is long gone from the tournament, the semifinals and finals coming up this week and next weekend present a good opportunity for children to watch the games on TV and get interested in the sport.

For children with autism and other disabilities, soccer is one of the best team sports to attempt, since it is fairly simple and doesn’t require a lot of equipment.

Playing soccer and other sports, exercising, and developing motor skills are areas that are often overlooked and under appreciated when it comes to therapy for children with autism. Sports and exercise can even improve social and cognitive skills for children with autism. Most importantly, soccer and other sports are fun.

To see the rest of my article on, click here.

Helping Kids (Autistic or Typical) Regulate Emotions

December 21, 2009

Here are some strategies that are good to teach children to handle their emotions.  These can work for kids with autism, who have a hard time regulating emotions, as well as for neurotypical children.

1.  Validate their feelings.  Don’t diminish what they say by saying they should not be upset.  Tell them you understand they are upset and that it’s normal to be upset.  Identify with them by saying that everybody feels badly sometimes – even adults.

2.  Give them strategies to self-regulate their emotions.  Examples include having them:

  • Take deep breaths.  Have them breathe into their hands or use a windmill or a leaf.
  • Count to 10 or 20.
  • Talk about it with a parent, teacher, or peer.
  • Exercise

3.  Use a video camera to tape them complaining about doing an activity and also tape them acting appropriately.  Show them both versions so they can understand how others perceive them (theory of mind).

By the way, if anyone has any other ideas, feel free to contact me (contact information is at