Exercise as an Early Intervention

I believe exercise is one of the most important early interventions for autism. In so many cases I see people with autism who barely walk ten feet and have no muscle tone, yet no one works on fitness with them. In a mind/body communication disconnect, early exercise programs can help forge a better communication network between body and brain. I’m sure the kid gym classes I took as a toddler and a young boy helped me be more coordinated, though I wish I had had more intensive help in several areas I will discuss. If I had received that support when I was younger I would have an easier time now in fitness.

In no particular order I recommend early intervention in:

1. stretching,

2. coordination–especially bilateral movements

3. cardio work, such as hiking and running

4. strength training.

My biggest motor obstacle today is that I have tight muscles and tendons. It is a problem affecting my physical comfort and will take a lot of time and effort to improve. I feel that it should have been noticed by adaptive PE teachers, or occupational therapists, or other professionals working with me physically, but they never said a word. Physical assessments looking at  the areas I mentioned should be standard because catching problems early makes them easier to fix.

Since professionals may miss things, parents should be vigilant and try to work on stretching, cardio, strength and coordination with their kids starting when they are young and making it part of their lifestyle. Going for brisk walks, doing simple stretches, picking up light weights, or touching alternate toes,  are all things young children can do daily and can help make movement and exercise comfortable and can help the body learn to listen better to the brain.


5 responses to “Exercise as an Early Intervention

  1. This is SO correct and important, Ido — thank you for bringing up the topic!

  2. Ido I LOVE THIS and would love any other suggestions or activities that you think worked for you! I am an occupational therapist and been working with RPM for the past year and it has transformed my outlook on how to work with my students and clients! I really value all your input and am constantly trying to think of tons of new and different ideas for creating movement and body based activities or exercises that will help my clients!!! I hope to talk to you and others more about this over the next few weeks so we can create the best combo of activities for parents and professionals to use when working with kids!! Thank you so much for continuing to shed light on what has or hasn’t worked for you over the years!!! WE are listening and ready to make changes!!! With love and respect, Jess Sibley

  3. Dear Ido,
    Last Sunday at Brisbane Airport I bought a copy of Norman Doidge’s ‘The Brain’s Way of Healing” about neuroplasticity. Right away I thought of your book “Ido in Autismland,” in which you proclaimed the value of working out. And now I open my email and see your new, wonderful report.
    Let me quote a paragraph from Doidge:
    “When Sydney was first brought to Baniel’s Center at five months he was completely spastic [from meningitis]. He couldn’t roll over. As with many people with strokes, his fists were tightly contracted and his arm was bent up against his chest, completely immovable. His parents were told he’d never walk. But at the end of his first session he opened both of his hands. He made progress with each visit, eventually learning to roll over and back. Baniel told his parents, “The same brain that learned to roll over, and sit up, is going to talk.”
    Ido, may I re-publish your new item at our Melbourne website, GumshoeNews.com?

  4. Of course! Thanks for sharing this quote with me.

  5. Amy Butterworth

    Thank you so much for this Ido, it is so good to have specific suggestions. It’s such a neglected area. I had never even thought of stretching, although it seems obvious now! My son is so tight and tense in his body, it is like he is constantly bracing against something. He loves to move, but it is not very controlled in most areas (with the exception of his pointing which is very accurate). I know he needs help with this. Now I can make a start.

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