Movement and play are part of our primal, evolutionary heritage. For children with autism, play skills and movement are often challenges from both physical and cognitive perspectives.
Looking at the history of human movement, we initially required optimal movement for survival purposes. As we evolved, movement became part of both daily life necessities and cultural advancement (sport and leisure). Today, we can recognize how movement still retains its survival benefits (keeps us healthy and alive) and recreational/social benefits (exercise and sports). To deny anybody the right to learn and access these very, very basic abilities is simply wrong. I won’t throw around the charged phrases “outrage, rediculous, etc.” It will, ultimately, undermine an individual’s optimal development if he or she is not receiving physical activity and ongoing physical education.
Teaching new activities and exercise may be aversive for a child with autism…initially. But when paired with other reinforcers (activities/items that are already enjoyed) new movements can become not only tolerated, but reinforcing themselves.
Parents are constantly looking for the new, magic therapy or innovation that will revolutionize autism. Many entities report that they have found the key to “reversing” or “healing” or “curing.” Autism. Fish oil is great. Spending 20 minutes in a pure air chamber is probably relaxing (for a kid who can tolerate it). There is no secret magic wonder therapy, but there are some proven methods for instilling children with autism with the skills and abilities they will need for life. Fitness is one of those skills. It does mean that you should bring your child outside, climb some things, jump around, and perhaps throw, or at least in the beginning, pass, a ball around. Is it more time-consuming than a time-release capsule? Yes. But worthwhile things are worth working for.