Did you know that physical exercise can also help the social aspect of an autistic person?
According to the literature, psychiatrist Eugen Bleuer created the term “autism” in 1911. The word derives from the Greek “autos” and means “self”. The clinician focused on the
search for symptoms of schizophrenia in adults.
“The general objective of this approach is to demonstrate the importance and benefits arising from the practice of physical activities aimed at people with autism.”
What is autism?
What is autism?
Autism is a behavioral syndrome with different etiologies in which the child development process is deeply distorted.
Since ancient times, some reports have been known about children and adults with strange behaviors, relating the term “child autism” to meaning “turned inward”.
Autism is a behavioral disorder that occurs during child development, characterized by deficits in social and communication skills, repetitive and restricted patterns of behavior and interests. This syndrome can be treated according to the degree of impairment of the individual and can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.
Several studies demonstrate that the regular practice of physical exercise can generate a series of benefits for the health of people with this syndrome, who, even with distorted thinking, are able to develop activities in a natural way.
According to the literature, the concept has undergone some changes. Until 2013, and according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this pathology was called Global Developmental Disorder (PGD).
Currently, and with the 5th edition of the DSM, the name Autism Spectrum Disorder (AEP) is now used, which includes: Autism, Asperger,
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not specified. AEP is a neurodevelopmental disorder with deficits
associated with communication and social interaction, showing restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior (DSM-5).
ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is currently understood as a neurological disorder that manifests before the age of three and is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.
Autistic individuals also usually present conditions associated with sensory disorders, difficulties in paying and/or maintaining attention and deficits in motor coordination.
Social aspects, such as: having friends, regularly participating in sports activities and having the support of a caregiver at school, affect the quality of life
of young people.
What are the strategies to follow?
Strategies for the treatment of ASDs focus mainly on cognitive stimulation, social and language development and the elimination of stereotyped movements.
Young people and children on the autism spectrum may be at particular risk of physical inactivity due to the disabilities associated with their condition and obesity is also a health problem for these individuals.
More than half of children with autism are overweight. This situation can lead to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone and joint problems and even depression or anxiety.
Metabolic dysfunction and the use of psychotropic medication have been identified as major implicating factors for short- and long-term status of central obesity and cardiometabolic risk profile when compared to populations with other disorders and disabilities.
Physical activity also has great benefits for people with disabilities, and can represent an asset in the evolution of different
pathologies. The use of physical activities and sports in children with autism has been carried out and studied. In the last two decades the interest in the potential benefits of physical exercise in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has increased, but research in this area is still scarce and based on small groups.
In this study, benefits were found in sports practices and physical activity, in the dimensions of sensorimotor learning, communication and
socialization, in addition to being decisive factors for the success of learning processes given the improvement of motivation and self-confidence.
The benefits allow the autistic person to progress in various aspects related to their disabilities, such as: physical performance, better knowledge of their body’s capabilities, better representation of their body in relation to the external environment, better communication and socialization with teammates and opponents, through collective games.
The exercises attenuate several behavioral characteristics, maladjustment, aggressiveness stereotypes, improving lack of attention and even the issue of flexibility, balance and muscle strength are significant points.
The existing literature is still very precarious, lacking more complete tests and results, as a way to identify and develop this population as a whole.
“It is concluded that physical activities provide a better quality of life for people with autism, improving their social life and interaction with others
Nuno Gomes – Personal Trainer
Regional Master Trainer – Holmes Place
AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL
MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS, FOURTH EDITION, TEXT REVISION (DSM-IVTR).
Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION.Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental
disorders.5th edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013.
Holmes Place – Portugal