What Extracurricular Activities May Be Best for a Child With Asperger’s Syndrome?
Extracurricular activities are important for a child’s development as a whole person. They are especially important for children with Asperger’s Syndrome, because these activities help children build teamwork, develop social skills, and learn good sportsmanship, all qualities with which many children with Asperger’s need some assistance.
Parents must exercise a little caution, though. Some activities that may be a great fit for a child who does not have Asperger’s may not work well for a child with Asperger’s. Sports such as basketball or soccer are sensory activities, which may make participation difficult for children with Asperger’s or who are on the Autistic Spectrum. Other activities, though, can bring out many of the gifts of children with Asperger’s.
Due to their sensory nature, contact sports or other activities that place a child in close contact with other children are usually not a good fit for children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Sports that give a child her or his personal space but allow the child to exercise her or his athletic gifts on an individual basis are usually a better choice.
Track and field, figure skating, tennis, or gymnastics are all sports that you may want to allow your child to try. Although many clubs promote a team spirit, the child still can practice and often perform on an individual basis. The team as a whole has a score that is calculated by using a mathematical formula. Children with Asperger’s, with their love of order, usually enjoy this type of scoring.
Play Groups and Meetup Groups for Parents of Children With Asperger’s
It is as good for you as it is for your child to get to know other parents whose children have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, particularly if your child has been receiving treatment. Your child, too, can compare experiences with her or his peers while having a good time. Another bonus of an Asperger’s meetup group is that if your child has an area of keen interest, another child with the same area of interest and yours may develop a bond.
Clubs for Special Interests and Academic Pursuits
Again, since children with Asperger’s often have a keen interest in a given topic, a club that helps that child develop that interest can help give your child more social skills while focusing on her or his special interest. A child who likes to work with machines, for instance, may want to get involved with a robotics club. Children with Asperger’s who love math may find that a math club is a great fit. Children who have a special way with animals may want to get involved in a dog training club or 4-H club. Allow your child’s interests to dictate which clubs he or she wants to join.
Classes or Private Lessons?
Learning social skills along with developing interests is an important ingredient in any extracurricular activity, but too much socialization can be a bit of a challenge for some children with Asperger’s. For those children, private lessons in their area of special interest can provide them with just the right mix of social skills and special interest skills. They will forge a connection with their teacher or coach, but will not become overly challenged by the social situation in some classes.
The skills honed by private lessons may lead to lifelong interests or even a career for children whose interest carries on into adulthood. Allow your child to take the lead in deciding what activities they become involved in, as well as the level at which they become involved. With their own interest level leading the way, extracurricular activities can truly enrich your child’s life.