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The AS/ASD Teen and Exercise

Many teens with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) face a host of physical limitations due to their diagnosis. Most teens have impaired gait and poor motor coordination, which can make it difficult for them to participate in regular physical activity. In school, teens with AS and ASDs can be offered adapted physical education classes. These classes are focused on managing the obstacles that these teens face, and promoting an environment in which they can engage in regular physical activity at their own pace and level. However, even though adapted physical education can be helpful in keeping AS/ASD teens active, the time actually spent in physical education class each week is limited in most schools. As a result, parents may need to get creative in order to ensure that AS/ASD teens get the physical activity they need to remain healthy. Here are some suggestions:

• Bowling: Bowling is an enjoyable and social sport that helps develop physical strength and imperative motor skills in a non-competitive environment.

• Swimming: Many children and tend with AS/ASDs enjoy the feeling of water on their skin. Not only is swimming fun, it also helps build strength and practice coordination.

• Karate: Karate is an individual sport that enables the teen to go at their own pace. Benefits include building focus, practicing gait and balance, developing hand-eye coordination, and building physical strength.

Many community centers offer a range of free or low-cost activities, which can be helpful for keeping teens with Asperger’s and autism spectrum disorders active.

Dr. Michael Clatch, Psy. D
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