Can Exercise Help in Pediatric ABA Therapy?

Exercise and physical activity might help in pediatric ABA therapy, depending on the child’s needs and abilities. Behavioral specialists might integrate exercises into your child’s applied behavior analysis treatment for a variety of reasons. Like every other aspect of these individualized therapies, physical activity always serves a specific function and furthers a particular learning and development goal for your child.

Sports, exercise, and other physical activities all have a role in human development. Your child could advance a variety of ABA treatment goals through focused, guided practice of these skills, including:

  • Reduction of problematic behavior
  • Enhancement of academic focus
  • Development of gross and fine motor function
  • Improvement of social skills

Why Use Exercise in ABA?

The decision to include physical activity in your child’s pediatric ABA therapy plan should come after an assessment of the unique case. The treatment coordinator should be able to help you understand the specifics.

One of the most common reasons to use exercise is to promote engagement. Depending on the situation, this could mean prompting social interaction or increasing focus on a task. Exercise may also help develop physical aptitude.

Does Exercise Help Stimming?

Stimming, or self-stimulatory behavior, is a common behavior among adults and children of all neurological and behavioral profiles. However, it is often particularly pronounced and disruptive for children on the autism spectrum.

Typically, therapists would periodically break for physical activities during a session. This strategy makes the most out of the three general ways that exercise reduces the impulse to self-stimulate, which are:

  • Necessitating engagement with external stimulation, such as social interaction, during the physical activity
  • Keeping physically occupied during the activity
  • Improving focus for a short time after the activity via the body’s natural anxiety reduction

Can ABA Improve Athletic Performance?

Many children on the spectrum find both fine and gross motor control challenging. It is also common for children to have difficulty sensing where their own body is in a space. These are both fundamental skills for any sport. Any child with development goals in these areas would probably benefit from exercise and physical activity as part of their ABA treatment course.

Early introduction to sports fundamentals and exercise in a controlled environment could help your child participate more when it comes time to play sports in school. For some children, an early start in physical education even unlocks a lifetime of dedication.

For example, in April 2018, the first minor-league baseball player with autism was signed to the Kansas City Royals. That player, Tarik El-Abour, has become a symbol in the community — another example that children on the spectrum have the same limitless potential as their peers.

How Do You Incorporate Exercise into ABA Therapy?

ABA professionals spend a long time learning when and how to use physical activity during therapy. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t grasp it overnight. Also, keep in mind that every child reacts in a unique way to exercise. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us directly.