Physical Activity Schedule or Daily Routine
Every individual with autism is different; however, some physical activities, including activities that are sensory in nature, are important to incorporate daily. These activities can address physical recreation, sensory, and social needs. Each exercise plan should be tailored to the needs and likes of the individual. For example, one individual may need heavier and active routines incorporated into the mornings and more calming, soothing activities in the afternoons, while another may need calming activities throughout the day.
A model physical activity or recreation plan for individual with autism would include activities and exercises that:
- Are of interest and fun to the individual
- Work on core muscle strength
- Use the large muscle groups and provide continuous in motion, such as climbing, jumping, and running for children
- Include aquatics activities when appropriate, as it provides sensory motor exercise
- Build on the individual's strengths, such as martial arts, which offer visual cues with the instructor modeling movement or forms for students, or swimming, which can offer deep pressure for individuals who may need this type of sensory stimulation
- Promote positive experiences which an individual will want to repeat
- Develop lifelong leisure and physical activity skills
- Are well organized because unstructured time and waiting are usually difficult
Physical activity or recreation suggestions that can be incorporated into the daily routine:
- Walking, jogging, bike riding, or other physical activities in the morning, when possible, allows for a good start to the day.
- Allow children during their school schedule to move around the classroom, step out in the hall for a drink of water, or to deliver a message to a nearby classroom to incorporate some simple movement throughout the day.
- Jumping, pushing, swinging, and stretching can be calming and assist with re-focusing during the day.
- Yoga moves can be taught and used as calming and relaxing techniques and can be incorporated as soothing activities before or after transition times when appropriate.
- Carrying groceries, heavy bags, or heavy pushing (such as vacuuming) can be good afternoon activities.
- Swimming or participation in sport activities or modified sports can be excellent opportunities for incorporating physical and social activities.