Teens with ASD: Extracurricular Activities
The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi
Just because your child has autism doesn't mean he shouldn't be involved in fun activities. Even if your child cannot paddle a kayak, he can sit in a tandem kayak while you paddle. He can also learn how to paddle by himself and then you can kayak next to him. If he's unable to do that, he can always sit in the kayak and go see the sights. The same goes for tubing, rafting, biking, bowling, horseback riding, hiking and many more activities.
Kids with ASD need more opportunities to be out and about than their peers because it gives them a break from therapy, but still engages them; it gives them much needed exercise; a view into the real world (instead of being locked in their own); and it keeps the family from being segregated from their community which is very common and potentially very dangerous long-term. Isolating the family results in more and more stress, which exercise and outings can help alleviate. Even if you just take a walk together after dinner, it gets everyone out of the house and keeps you healthy.
There are also many types of structured activities your child can join, like summer camps, adapted skiing, surfing, sailing, swimming, yoga, track (especially cross country running), Special Olympics, theater workshops, Challenger Baseball or soccer and Tai Chi, to name just a few. I really wanted to give you links for each type of program but they are so specific to the geographical area that it became impossible so just do a Google search for “special needs”, the sport of your choice and your city and state to find local programs.
A special note on swimming lessons
Because our kids are attracted to water and lack safety awareness, many children with autism drown every year. If your child does not already know how to swim, please try again. Now that they are older, they have many new skills and should be more capable of learning. Many more places offer private lessons for children with autism and recreational programs for children with autism that are housed in a facility with a pool will often offer specialty lessons for free or low cost. Whatever the cost, it will be worth to know they are safe near the water.
Help for swim instructors to work with ASD children:
Start with your local YMCA/YWCA, autism support group or Google to find a special needs swim instructor.