Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have difficulty forming friendships and participating in playful interactions. As a result, many children living with ASD play alone. ASD affects approximately 1 in 45 children in North America. The incidence of ASD has increased dramatically over the past decade. For the most part, young children develop social and communication skills through active play with peers, think about playground games like tag, hide and seek or hop scotch. Generally, it’s the kids who have good movement skills that are most comfortable participating in these types of games. In turn, their movement and social skills continue to improve.
Children with ASD consistently demonstrate poor fundamental movement skills, which could be one reason why they tend to lag behind their peers in developing good movement and social skills. Some studies show that children have poorer movement skills than their peers from a young age and the gap widens over time.
There is no known cure or cause for ASD, but there are some treatment options out there that can lead to improvements with social skills. Unfortunately, many of these therapies are administered one on one by highly trained therapists. These types of therapies can be costly and often have long wait lists making them inaccessible to many children who need them.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could reach more children more readily? We can! Group music and movement programs can be a fun and innovative way to motivate children with ASD to participate in playful interactions with their peers. Supporting children with ASD as they participate in these types of activities does not require a specialized degree. Even a community based music and movement program could lead to improved movement skills and enhance social outcomes for children with ASD.
Keep checking in with us for inspiration on how you can use music and movement activities to support the social and motor development of the children that you care about. Have you used music and movement activities to engage your children with ASD? Please share your experiences in the comments below.