Regular physical activity is important for all children. But for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), promoting exercise as part of their daily routine is critical. These kids often prefer solitary activities that involve little physical exercise, which increases their risk for being overweight.
Recent studies indicate that nearly half of all children with autism are overweight or obese. This puts them at risk for health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Children with autism may gain weight because they have:
Even with these barriers to overcome, you can still help your child with autism be more active. Try these steps:
If your child does not already exercise, you may want to provide some opportunities for her to try out some new activities. If your child doesn’t seem interested in those activities, even walking with a parent around a neighborhood, at a park or inside a mall can be excellent exercise.
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for children with autism. If you have concerns about your child’s weight or health status, consult your pediatrician. A specialist in weight management can provide medical guidance related to getting active and maintaining a healthy weight.
If your child is overweight, you can also enroll in our treatment study for additional support.
We recognize that every child is unique and that the content of this article may not work for everyone. This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. We hope these tips will serve as a jumping off point for finding the best approach to helping a child with autism. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.