Extra-curricular activities can enrich any childhood. For a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, extra-curricular activities can nurture a child’s skill or interest, and helps them develop important social skills, including teamwork and good sportsmanship.
But while a child without Asperger’s might be signed up for soccer or basketball and love it, it’s less likely that these activities will be a good fit, since they are both highly sensory and difficult for kids with Asperger’s or who fall somewhere else on the Autistic Spectrum to handle. There are, however, several possibilities that can bring out the skills of a child with Asperger’s.
Sports that involve a lot of contact or demand that a child be in close proximity to others are usually not ideal, but exercise is important for any child, or adult. For those with Asperger’s, it is easier to thrive in sports that allows them to develop some athleticism, while still allowing them a sense of personal space. Tennis, track, or even gymnastic teams are all possible choices. While there is ultimately a team component, the actual sport involves only a few people, and in many cases is something that is actually practiced independently. Team performance is calculated mathematically, and many kids with Asperger’s can appreciate having this type of order in their activity.
Asperger’s Meet Up Groups/ Play Groups
If your child is undergoing treatment for their Asperger’s syndrome, it may give you an opportunity to meet other parents whose children are going through experiences similar to their child. Since children with Asperger’s develop an intense interest in specific things, two children with a similar interest might get along especially well.
Special Interest and Academic Clubs
Depending on the club, special interest and academic clubs may or may not have a competitive element to them, but children with Asperger’s can benefit from being involved with them. In either case, exactly what club is chosen should be dictated by the child’s interests. For example, if they like to take things apart, a robotics club may be enjoyable. Those who are very strategic might want to join a chess club. Astrology and Math clubs are also options that might be a good fit for some children with Asperger’s.
While it can be good for a child with Asperger’s to develop their skills and interests along with other children their age, not every child will be ready for that much socialization. For these kids, developing talents by taking private lessons is a good choice. Many children with Asperger’s develop strong interests and talents in areas such as art, music, or photography. Some have a very good report with animals, so something such as horseback riding lessons might be beneficial. Private lessons will give the child an opportunity to connect with their teacher and develop their interests as deeply as they wish. For some, skills nurtured by private lessons may even lead to employment later in life.
However you choose to go about helping a child with Asperger’s get involved with an extra-curricular activity, it’s important to let them set the pace and that they are given a say in the type of activity they are going to participate in. That way the activity can truly enhance the child’s life.