Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not one specific disorder, but a group of disorders that have similar behavioral characteristic, such as difficulty with communication and socialization. The cause of ASD is still unknown but there are studies that indicate there may a genetic or environmental component. More specifically, ASD can cause limitations in intellectual abilities as well as difficulties with attention and motor coordination. ASD is usually identified during the first three years of life and affects boys at a higher rate than girls (Autism Society). ASD actually occurs at five times a higher rate in boys than in girls, affecting as many as 1 in 54 boys as compared to 1 in 252 girls (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Newer reports have shown that the prevalence of ASD has increased over previous years and indicates that ASD can actually affect as many as 1 in 88 individuals (Autism Speaks). There are a multitude of different types of therapies than can assist individuals whose lives are affected by ASD. This paper describes many of the challenges faced by individuals with ASD and also explores some of the physical based activities that have been shown to be effective in helping children with ASD overcome many of the obstacles they face.
Motor impairments are one of a large number of concerns for children who are diagnosed with ASD. These motor impairments can be quite diverse and include impairments that affect the individual with ASD’s gross and fine motor skills and control of posture (Bhat, Landa, & Galloway, 2011). There is research reflecting that eighty-three percent of children with ASD demonstrate below average functioning on various motor-skill related tests. These motor impairments can affect daily activities like brushing teeth and independently dressing oneself, as children with ASD can have difficulty with the fine motor skills needs to manipulate buttons and zippers. These impaired motor skills can also cause difficulties in the educational setting (MedlinePlus). Children with ASD may also have challenges with the coordination required for physical activities such as walking, running, and jumping, but can also affect activities such as sitting, since autistic individuals can have difficulties with posture (Autism Speaks). Motor impairments can impact individuals with autism in a number of different ways and can have huge impacts on the basic activities of day to day living.
In addition to motor impairments, individuals with ASD often have difficulties with how they respond to sensory information, or specific types of stimuli. This can include a hyper- sensitivity to touch, sound, light, and even smell (Autism Speaks). Individuals with ASD can demonstrate an extreme sensitivity to sensory input and can become confused, anxious, irritable, and fidgety when exposed to certain types of sensory input (Tomchek & Dunn, 2007).
Reactions to certain types of sensory input can range from mild to more...