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Exercises that may help children with sensory needs (ASD/ADHD)

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Each child will react differently to different stimulus. My own lad likes/needs heavy exercises more often - his movement exercises or proprioreception can stimulate him too much - but aren't ignored, he still needs them, just less often. Autism throws up many curve balls.

I've got a sports/fitness background so together we've put together 3 or 4 workouts that stimulate him in different ways:

Proprioreception:

1 - We use a 'micro hurdle' that he jumps over sideways (use a roll of paper towels if needed);

2 - We use the same 'micro hurdle and he jumps over front and back;

3 - We use coloured cones or markers and he runs from a starting point to the cone, touches it, then returns to the start point (I call out the different colours for him) - anything from a 2 metre to a 5 metre distance (use a can of beans, a can of peas and a can of sweetcorn or coloured balls) and;

4 - Burpees (standing jump then down for a press up or push up).

We do these in a little circuit for around 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how tired he is and how tired I need him to get.

Muscular:

We use a collection of resistance bands for these (I use a brand called LetsBands for mine - they come with a 1 year warranty and some exercise information). We do maybe 20 or 30 of these each (I'm not looking for him to build muscular strength, just work/tire his muscles). We might do 2 or 3 rounds of each exercise depending on how tired he is or how tired I need him to be.

1 - Mini Band - The Archer - He holds the light mini band in his hand, arms in front of his body straight out at shoulder level, he then pulls one hand back to his cheek, keeping the other arm straight - he looks like he's shooting a bow and arrow - he slowly releases the band to the start position and repeats on the other side;

2 - PowerBand - The Weightlifter - He stands (bottom of the circle) on the light powerband and holds it in his hands (top of the circle) at shoulder height, he crouches/squats down, bringing his bottom towards his knees, he stands up and presses his hands towards the ceiling (if you have ever seen Olympic weightlifters, it's that sort of movement) - he lowers his hands to his shoulders, then squats down again before repeating;

3 - Mini Band - Crab walk - The mini band goes around his calfs, he takes 2 or 3 side steps on one side, then goes the opposite direction, returning to the start position, he's in a semi or partial squat position with knees slightly bent, his upperbody lent forward slightly (spine straight).

4 - PowerBand - Rotations - I hold one side of the powerband (acting as an anchor point), he holds the bands at shoulder height, with arms straight out. Trying to keep his shoulders locked in position, he rotates/twists/turns his upperbody to one side, back to centre and then rotates to the other side.

Other exercises:

Cycle - Stationary bike for 5 minutes at a medium tension or resistance level.

Boxing - 5 minutes on a punch ball.

Press ups/Push ups - up to 10 - working at his level to achieve the reps.

Squats - up to 20 per round.

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