Even as adults, many of us struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whether we find it difficult to remain motivated with exercise, or to stick to a nutritious diet, its important that we find a healthy balance! However, for children with autism (and their families), it can be even more difficult to follow a healthy lifestyle, and many will require extra support to ensure they can do so.
At Alee behavioral, we have many years of experience in working with children with autism and their families to ensure they can reach their full potential. Our holistic approach encompasses many different kinds of autism therapy, from speech therapy to applied behavioral analysis (ABA). However, we also understand the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle in addition to any extra support they may receive.
In order to help, we’ve compiled some ‘Top Tips’, on how to best maintain a healthy lifestyle for children with autism!
1) Keep moving!
Children with autism will have varied interests and hobbies. They tend to think very analytically and as such, will tend to favor hobbies that challenge them mentally. Some common hobbies include coding, trainspotting and writing.
While it is important to encourage them to explore their interests, its important to note that these hobbies often equate to sitting down indoors and staying still. As a result, they also spend some time outdoors and exercising! This does not mean they need to be constantly on the go, but you should set aside some time each day for exercise. We recommend fun, simple activities such as walking, yoga or gymnastics!
For more tips and exercise recommendations for children with autism, you can check out our previous blog here!
2) Find a Sleep Routine!
Children with autism are more likely to suffer from insomnia, and often find it difficult to fall asleep. And, as with anyone, a bad night’s sleep can seriously affect their behavior and how they feel throughout the day.
One way in which you can combat this is by establishing a routine. You should encourage them to get settled and ready for bed at the same time every day. Ideally, you should also limit screen time before bedtime, so they can fall asleep easier!
3) An Apple a day
As we mentioned previously, we all struggle with maintaining a healthy diet, especially when we are surrounded by temptation! However, this can be especially difficult for those with autism as they tend to favor specific foods, tastes and textures over others, and they will be less willing to try something new. In this case, the most important lesson we can teach them is moderation!
They don’t have to stop eating their favorite food, but they should try other things too! When making changes to a diet, do so slowly. Make small substitutions over a long period of time, allowing them to get used to the changes as opposed to a complete overhaul overnight, which they might find overwhelming.
4) Stay relaxed!
Children with autism can often feel stressed or anxious, While there are many ways to combat this, such as autism therapy, its important that you help them deal with and process their feelings in the home too. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are great at helping children de-stress and come to terms with how they are feeling. Learn more about mindfulness for children in the video included below:
5) Be patient and understanding
Like any child who is growing and developing, your child’s needs, wants and behaviors will change from day to day. It can be difficult, during this time, to ensure you are providing them with the help and support they need. With this in mind, the best way to help them is by being patient and understanding. If they are feeling tired, ask them why they think they might be feeling that way and what you can do about it. At meal times, help them feel in control by giving them a choice on what they eat that day.
A healthy lifestyle can be difficult to maintain, but it is not impossible! Try to take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle each day and you will all feel the benefits!