The Benefits of Exercise for Kids with Autism, ADHD and Other Neurological Disorders

autism

This week’s inspirational story comes from one of my cousins who has seemed to have experienced it all. She is an amazing advocate for her child. Her persistence in her child’s therapy, social skills, and IEP planning continues to pay off as he succeeds in the classroom, home, and everyday environments.  Her continual efforts for her kids  reminds me of a quote by Franklin Roosevelt, “We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”  I hope you enjoy it!

My oldest son was born 13 weeks premature, weighing just 1 pound 7 ounces.  Paul is a miracle in every sense of the word and continues to have small miracles.  He was delayed in most areas of development, suffered a permanent severe hearing loss in one ear, struggled with eye alignment for years, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and later PDD (high-functioning autism) and ADHD.

Physical exercise has always been an important part of Paul’s therapy.  One experience several years ago shows the amazing impact of physical activity for a child who struggles to make sense of his own world. One summer morning, my husband had to go to work early and was gone before my kids woke up.  When I went to get Paul out of bed, he asked me where Dad was.  When I said that Dad was already at work, Paul completely shut down emotionally.  He couldn’t process that his dad wasn’t there when he woke up and he had a complete meltdown.  He refused to get out of bed.  He said that he would stay in bed until Dad got home from work and then he would have breakfast.  He needed everything to be the same as it usually was before he felt like he could start his day. I pushed him to get dressed, eat breakfast, and go on a bike ride.  We live near an elementary school, so I let Paul ride his bike as long as he wanted.  We ended up staying there for about an hour and Paul rode his bike on the blacktop most of that time.  When we got home, I started cleaning things up for lunch.  Paul said, “Mom, is there anything you need me to do?” It was amazing to me that one hour on a bike had completely changed Paul’s mindset that day.  Not only was he calm, but he was also asking me if I needed help with anything!

Must Read:  10 Things You Should Do If You Have Adult ADHD

The bike not only helped Paul regulate his sensory needs, but it was also a huge help with Paul’s eyes.  He struggled to use both eyes together, and one eye at a time would frequently turn in.  Whenever we went on a bike ride, Paul was able to keep his eyes aligned.  It was an amazing difference!  We learned from a vision therapist that balance activities require both sides of the brain to work together, and that is why his eyes were so much better with regular bike rides.

New research suggests that exercise stimulates the brain.  This article says that there may be a link between exercise and the creation of new neurons.  It also says, “Children with autism, ADHD and other neurological disorders are showing improved motor skills, increased communication and positive behavioral change.”  Michael Phelps struggled with ADHD as a child, and swimming was able to have a huge impact on helping him regulate his ADHD

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