One of the most essential elements for a healthy brain is easily available and poorly managed by the child with autism: Oxygen.

Oxygen is one of the most important elements of brain growth and healing. If for any reason a person has difficulty breathing for a period of time, their oxygen level is measured and doctors will ensure that the individual is properly oxygenated as a priority because low oxygen levels mean brain cell death. The deep breathing required during physical exercise brings an irreplaceable treasure of oxygen to the brain.

Research found that children with autism have difficulty with deep breathing and a lower heart rate than expected during physical exercise, possibly caused by a deficit in the limbic system.

In apparent contradiction, most parents report that their children are very active, running, hopping, flapping, etc. This visible activity often leads parents to think that their children exercise plenty enough during the day.  However, the typical activities that a child does around the house or while watching TV do not require sufficient exertion or muscle stretching to increase the heart rate and breathing, which are keys for improved oxygenation.

Statistics show that children with autism tend to experience less physical exercise than their neurotypical peers. Less physical exercise means less oxygen to the brain, but also, physical exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on brain plasticity. So, “particular attention has to be given to physical activity in children and young adults with autism“, to quote Macdonald, Esposito and Ulrich in their published paper: The physical activity patterns of children with autism.

Mendability recommends that the families add two daily routines to their lives: downtime and physical exercise. After a period of exercise which has prompted brain growth, downtime allows the brain to organize the repair process.

Example of an aerobic therapy exercise adapted to a child with autism

Because a child with autism has trouble following instructions or discipline, adapted physical exercise programs must be organized at school or at home taking into consideration the child’s abilities and body control.Physical exercise programs for a child with autism will involve adult supervision, to ensure that the child completes the session. You can pick any form of exercise that your child enjoys – swimming, running, gymnastics, climbing, etc. Here is an example of something you could do at home: an obstacle course.

One adapted physical exercise session can be organized around an “up and down” set of obstacles during which the child will have to bend under an obstacle or step over another. In a gym or backyard, the adult can create a motivational set of steps, each one being rewarded by a preferred object.

Any piece of the furniture, such as a table or a broomstick can be used for the child to walk under and then fetch a preferred object. This obstacle and reward should be immediately followed by an obstacle to walk over, such as a large book standing up on the ground. The adult holds the child’s hand constantly in order to maintain the pace and ensure that all the obstacles are completed.

Ten minutes is a good length of time for this at-home obstacle course. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that children get 60 minutes of exercise a day. The session should be followed by downtime during which the child is left on his own to do what he pleases.

A physical exercise session followed by downtime will be ideal to precede a session of Mendability exercises.

References

About Sensory Enrichment Therapy

Clinical Studies Validate Sensory Enrichment Therapy as an Effective Autism Treatment

Results showed that after 6 months of therapy 42% of the children in the sensory enrichment group achieved clinically significant improvement, compared to only 7% of the children in the standard care group.

  1. Woo, C., & Leon, M. (2013). Environmental enrichment as an effective treatment for autism: A randomized controlled trial. Behavioral Neuroscience, 487-497.
  2. Woo, C., Donnelly, J., Steinberg-Epstein, R., & Leon, M. (2015). Environmental enrichment as a therapy for autism: A clinical trial replication and extension. Behavioral Neuroscience, 412-422.

42% of children with autism had a clinically significant improvement

Click here for more information about the clinical trials

  • Brain Plasticity

    Studies have shown that the brain has the ability to change and develop.

  • Sensory Enrichment Therapy

    Sensory Enrichment Therapy includes specific protocols proven to enhance brain plasticity. It is a scientifically driven treatment that uses sensory experiences to enable the brain to reduce the symptoms of autism.

  • Mendability

    Mendability provides this autism therapy over the Internet at a low cost, giving a structured treatment protocol that you can administer at home for 10-15 minutes daily.

    This is an autism therapy with clinically proven results, personalized to fit within your schedule – officially accredited by The Joint Commission.

The results are:

  • A child who initiates more natural conversations
  • A child who is more comfortable in his own skin and the world around him
  • A child who can learn more confidently
  • More calm, more focus, more engagement
  • Deeper, less interrupted sleep
  • More interest in varied foods
  • Easier to cope with change and to transition

Mendability - Sensory Enrichment Therapy for Autism - Accredited by the Joint Commission

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