Health and Fitness Lifestyle

Could Outdoor Adventure be a Treatment for Autism?

Could Outdoor Adventure be a Treatment for Autism?

Study Finds Outdoor Adventure is Promising Treatment for Autism

Recent research finds outdoor challenge-based interventions could be effective in reducing the severity of symptoms presented by Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is an increasingly diagnosed neurodevelopment disorder with as many as one in 68 US children diagnosed every year.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Playing outdoors was part of growing up in our time. Has it changed today? Pic: kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.

The word ‘spectrum‘ describes the range of difficulties that people on the autism spectrum may experience and the degree to which they may be affected.

Some people may be able to live relatively normal lives, while others may have an accompanying learning challenges and require continued specialist support.

It’s not just the kids who can have all the fun. Get out there with them yourself! Pic:kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

Main Areas of Difficulty

The main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.

People on the autism spectrum may also have:

  • Unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or staring intently at moving objects
  • Sensory sensitivities including avoiding everyday sounds and textures such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and sand
  • Intellectual impairment or learning difficulties

An estimated one in 100 people has autism; that’s almost 230,000 Australians. Autism affects almost four times as many boys than girls.

A Novel Treatment

Research has previously shown that early diagnosis and treatment of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) can work to lessen the impacts on both the suffers and their families, however a new study from Tel Aviv University has investigated a novel type of treatment: Outdoor play and adventure.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Adventure provides challenge and stimulation. Pic: kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

The Study

The study examined 51 children from seven special-education kindergartens, all aged three to seven, with 30 of these selected to participate in an Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP).

Cognitive and adaptive skills were assessed by the children’s kindergarten instructors before and after the program was undertaken, with significant improvements found for the group exposed to outdoor adventure.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Individual and group problem-solving. Pic: kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

“Outdoor adventure programs are designed to improve interpersonal skills and interpersonal relationships by using adventurous activities to provide individual and group problem-solving and challenge tasks,” said lead author Professor Ditza Antebi-Zachor.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Activities that challenge and evoke stress but are nevertheless enjoyable. Pic: backyardandbeyond.org

“Our study shows that outdoor adventure activities benefit children with autism and improve their social communication skills.” Professor Ditza Antebi-Zachor.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Adventure activities helps to build trust. Pic: kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

“The necessary tools for a successful OAP include establishing individual and group goals, building trust among participants, and providing activities that challenge and evoke stress but are nevertheless enjoyable. Professor Ditza Antebi-Zachor.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Outdoor adventure programs are designed to improve interpersonal skills and interpersonal relationships. Pic: kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

“We suggest including these fun activities in special education kindergartens and in communication classrooms at school in addition to traditional treatments.

Parents of children with ASD can also enrol their kids in after school activities based on the principles of our research.” Professor Ditza Antebi-Zachor.

outdoor adventure helps autism
Certain types of stress, in small doses can be good. Pic: kidsadventureoutdoors.org.au

The study was published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

 

Want Some Adventure?

There are quite a few organisations that offer group activities for children, but here are a few we have found to get you started.

Kids Adventure Outdoors

Tree Tops

The Outdoor Adventure Company

 

Original story featured in Wild Magazine.
Jason Lorch

Author: Jason Lorch

Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I’m also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).

I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them.

So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.

Chief editor at Tyres and Soles.

Follow @tyresandsoles
  • All hail the women’s @injinji Trail 2.0 socks 🙌 | 📸 @richardmcgibbon
  • Grips are an integral part to any cockpit – its where you, meet your bike. The “X Logo Lock-On Grips” by @ridejoystick have a narrow profile and rubber control pattern for a comfortable, anti-slip and shock absorbing pattern. Grippingly grippy! 🤜 📸 @tyresandsoles
  • “When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top.” - Unknown | 📷 @louisarevalo with @mackyfranklin and @sydgschulz | Featured packs from Seral/Savu Series #OspreyPacks
  • The Aquila is now available and in stores in 27.5” & 29”! Beside our DHC downhill casing, the allround talent is now also available in a long awaited foldable FRC version. 🦅🦅 #onzatires #onzaaquila @linksportsau •
•
•
•
#downhill #downhilllife #mtb #mtbaddiction #downhill24 #enduro #mtbdaily #24dh #enduromtb #mountainbike #ridemtb #downhillmtb #mtbdose #shred #sendit #mtblifestyle #radbikes #gearreview #mtbreview #mtbapparel #freerider #dirtjump #mtbtrails #singletrack #soenduro #mtbenduro #trailrider
  • The @salomon Women’s specific “Sense Ride 2” trail running shoe, is a speed machine on the rowdiest of trails. 🤟
  • The Savu, from Osprey, is a great alternative to the traditional lumbar packs we see today. With a modular design, it allows you to fill up two bottles or cinch down to zilch, making it quite an adaptable hydration pack. In terms of storage and comfort, we rate it high. The Savu has a very secure and stable fit even on the rowdiest of trails. Ideal for short to mid-length rides. | 📸 @richardmcgibbon
  • When you still want all the features but like a more simple package. You want the new ‘Sunset’ from @wearhandske #wearhandske #outlineart
  • Sometimes the water on your back is the only thing you need, especially when you’re planning on riding a fast and familiar route. The Kitsuma 1.5 is the ideal pack for women who want just that. Designed with the mountain biking minimalist in mind. | 📸 @richardmcgibbon. •
•
•
•
•
•
•
#downhill #downhilllife #mtb #mtbaddiction #downhill24 #enduro #mtbdaily #24dh #enduromtb #mountainbike #ridemtb #downhillmtb #mtbdose #shred #sendit #mtblifestyle #radbikes #gearreview #mtbreview #mtbapparel #freerider #dirtjump #mtbwomen #mtbgirl #mtbtrails #singletrack #soenduro #mtbenduro #trailrider
  • The @aussiegritapparel women’s specific mtb vest has a perfect mix of fashion and function with great storage options, lightweight and breathable fabrics and a technical cut to keep your core warm on those early morning and evening rides. A thumbs up from us 👍 | 📸 @richardmcgibbon
  • The @ergonbike SM Women’s specific saddle is one of the most comfortable saddles out there. A technical saddle with a luxurious amount of padding. Be nice to your bum. 👍 📸 @tyresandsoles
  • Shooting the @uswesports Pace 12 running vest with Hannah Porteous at the Royal National Park in Sydney's south.⠀
------------ 📸 @richardmcgibbon
  • Attention to detail is one area that struck us with the @aussiegritapparel clothing. Each item of clothing has been developed specifically for an activity in mind. Function follows fashion - follows function. 📸 @richardmcgibbon