It is so simple, yet so much fun. Jumping is a great way for your child to have fun, do something healthy and gain confidence.
Finding activities that children enjoy can often be a challenge. Often children with autism may struggle with co-ordination or other physical challenges that make it hard for them to participate in sports. This often causes them to lose interest in sport related activities and can lower self esteem.
Consider Jumping! The physical act of jumping for most children is simple and individual enough that they are able to excel and in turn gain new physical abilities and confidence. So how do you turn a simple jump in to an activity? Use your imagination. Invent games or imaginary worlds.
Most autistic children have great imaginations and enjoy inventing stories or worlds. Imagine walking through a magical forest, having to jump over logs or to enter the castle. Possibly a game to see who can jump the fastest in 10 seconds or who can jump the farthest or highest.
The most important key is to be sure to make it FUN. If you are competitive in any way, let the child win most of the time! Be aware of the child's feelings and what they want to do. Try to adapt the activity to what they are interested in, not dictating the entire exercise having to happen a certain way.
Over time, the child will develop greater interest, confidence and you can start to shape the activities to further improve the child's skill. It is also important to regularly participate to keep the child interested, but not too often as this may be overwhelming.
Variety is important to keep it interesting and the activity should be focused on the concept of the game or story, not the physical act of jumping. For example, you may ask your child “Do you want to play the magical castle game?” (which is actually the lets practice jumping and have fun at the same time game).
Jumping may seem simple, but that is the beauty of it – a child can make good progress in a non-competitive environment. Using a little creativity they can learn, gain physical ability and confidence and new interest in sports related activities.
Most sports benefit from jumping, either directly such as basketball, or indirectly as jumping can assist with co-regulation and running.
There are additional resources available for techniques and ideas on how to higher higher and better at the AIIG web site. Try to incorporate these ideas in your games slowly and build in additional techniques and exercises as the child is able.