Autism is a neural development disorder that is characterized by an impaired social interaction. It also affects the verbal and non-verbal communication. It affects information processing in the brain and it shows symptoms as early as before 3 years of age with 90 % of all showing sensory impairment (Geschwind DH, 2009). As everyone else, children with autism are entitled to leisure and recreation activities. Brewster and Coleyshaw (2011) noted that leisure is very important to all people and lack of it can lead to loneliness, dissatisfaction, boredom, depression, anxiety, and suicidal emotions. This is why I choose this topic.
For young people with autism, leisure activities can help improve the social and language skills (Orsmond and Kuo, 2011). This is mainly because leisure activities increase the interaction with the rest of the society. In the process, the challenges of processing information in the brain improve and consequently improve tremendously the language both verbally and non-verbally.
There are differences on the type and mode of leisure for the children with autism. According to Jane Shields (2011) in the National Autistic Society websites describes the toys that are preferred by children with autism. He quotes (L. Wing, 2003), who opine that children with autistic disorders tend to prefer toys that involve visual-spatial skills as shape and color matching, jigsaw puzzles or constructional materials. For example, color torches, bubbles, jack-in-the box or Tummy’s ‘pop-up pirate’, and train toys among others.
They are also attracted to books with flaps, pictures, puzzle and factual books. Physical activities include, sliding, swinging, trampoline, rocking horse, football, sand pits, climbing frames among others. The autistic children are also connect with people through playing picture lotto games, snap, guess who, snake and ladder, and chess. Since technological advancements are taking many forms, there are soft wares that are friendly to children with autism. Some suggested soft wares include Microsoft’s Magic School bus, Disney Magic Artist, and software that can develop vocabulary such as talking animated alphabet.
Brewster and Coleyshaw (2011) investigate what young autistic children did in their leisure time and what they preferred and the challenges they faced. Many of them spend time within the home compounds. The young ones showed a lot of excitement than the older ones on the type of activities they would prefer for leisure. Many had a problem with social interaction and bullying.
However, leisure and recreation activities for the children with autism face several barriers in the society. Those children who have intellectual disability spend more time alone or in company of the paid professionals than they spend with their peers. Children with both autism and intellectual disability spends more time alone than those with intellectual disability alone.
Schaff et al. (2011) asserted that families with children with autism have difficulties in arranging the leisure activities for the family. This is because the autistic children require a lot of attention and hence makes the families to be very flexible in their leisure activities. Most of them prefer to use familiar places like homes for leisure activities.
Thompson and Emira (2011) carried out an investigation on the barriers to outside participation of children with autism. They found that, many families had a sense of isolation and lack of engagement with leisure activities. They felt vulnerable and worried about bullying.
In conclusion, children with Autism desire leisure activities like any other. In fact, leisure activities are beneficial in reducing the autism. Therefore, proper mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that the feeling of been bullied and isolation is reduced. The public should also be alerted on the effects of isolation and bulling of autistic children.
- Orsmond, Gael and Hsin-Yu Kuo (2011). The Daily Lives of Adolescents with an Autism
Spectrum Disorder: Discretionary Time Use and Activity Partners. Autism 15(5): 579-599
- Brewster, Stephanie and Liz Coleyshaw (2011). Participation or Exclusion? Perspectives of
Pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorders on their Participation in Leisure Activities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities 39: 284-291
- Schaaf, Roseann, Susan Toth-Cohen, Stephanie Johnson, Gina Outten, and Teal Benevides
(2011). The Everyday Routines of Families of Children with Autism: Examining the Impact of Sensory Processing Difficulties on the Family. Autism 15(3): 373-389
- Jane Shields(2011)toys and leisure activities. Retrieved from
http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/at-home/toys-and-leisure-activities.aspx on 21st March, 2014.
- Thompson, David and Mahmoud Emira (2011). ‘They Say Every Child Matters, But They
Don’t’: An Investigation into Parental and Carer Perceptions of Access to Leisure Facilities and Respite Care for Children and Young People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Disability & Society 26(1): 65-78
- Geschwind DH (2009). Advances in autism. Annu Rev Med.;60:367–80.
doi:10.1146/annurev.med.60.053107.121225. PMID 19630577.