Developing group activities for young people, or any people, with autism presents the challenge of having a significant variance in physical, adaptive, and cognitive abilities. This is why sports or competitive activities, even when they are labeled or marketed as “adaptive/adapted” (I’ve been redressed for using either term), don’t work too well. It is damn near impossible to take a competitive activity with specific skill sets and progress/regress it for everyone in the group without wasting chunks of time.
Selecting activities that allow for in vivo adaptation allows each participant to actually participate. Rather than leaving those behind who cannot conceptualize the activity (too many steps or too abstract), inclusive programming leaves room for variability in performance.
At our (Autism Fitness and the National Autism Association) second annual “Fitness in Central Park” event, a big group of individuals showed up. Watch the video below featuring kangaroo hops. While the entire group starts off at the same place, you can appreciate the range of abilities including physical performance, modeling (following/imitating a visual guide), and task-adherence (performing the entire activity from beginning to end).
This was not a structured teaching situation where the skills would be developed to any meaningful point, but an opportunity to engage in some (probably) new movements and activities while getting outside. The goals were simply to explore and enjoy.