With distance learning, working from home, and general pandemic fatigue, adding anything to our daily routines sounds completely overwhelming — but the benefits of at-home physical activities (especially for kids with sensory processing disorders) are enormous. We reached out to Eric Amundson, co-owner of Leaps n Boundz — a Los Angeles–based center that provides recreation, therapy, and social activities for children with disabilities — to talk about the benefits of physical movement and how we can more easily incorporate it while we’re languishing (aren’t we?) at home. 

“Depending on your child’s sensory profile or sensory needs, there are physical activities they can do that will help them stay regulated and calmer throughout the day,” Eric says. He explains that when your child has specific exercises they can refer to, they’re able to say things like, “I need to do this exercise right now,” or “Doing this exercise will help me feel better,” which improves their ability to self-regulate. In fact, daily physical movements can actually decrease stress and increase organization for every family member’s daily life.

Short online exercise classes can be really helpful for getting kids to move around more each day. There is also the very real benefit of having a regular activity to look forward to with peers.

 


 Leaps n Boundz offers a free virtual community workout class that is regularly attended by 8 to 17 kids:

  • Tuesdays at 1:30–2:00 p.m. PST 
  • Have a chair and two water bottles on hand to use during exercises. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate along with their children to help them modify and complete exercises.
  • Email Eric at eric@leapsnboundz.com for more information.
     


 Kids Like Me LA offers virtual fitness classes for children and teens with autism and other disabilities:

  • Yoga, ages 7 and up: Tuesdays, 4:00–5:00 p.m. PST
  • Karate, ages 7 and up: Wednesdays from 3:00–4:00 p.m. PST.
  • $120 for eight weeks of classes, with a $40 discount offered to current Help Group students. 
  • Check out their full schedule here!
     


 Outschool provides live online video classes and clubs:

  • Fun for Fitness, ages 8-12: Tuesdays, 2–2:30 p.m. PST
  • Fun for Fitness, ages 13-18: Tuesdays, 2:35–3:05 p.m. PST
  • 4-8 students can attend each weekly class
  • Exercises include upper-, lower-, and whole-body work with modifications so that all children with disabilities can participate.
  • $10/session, plus a free trial for new families so your first week of class is free.

For more, be sure to check out our article on physical activities to do at home! And If you’re looking for something easy to try online, check out whole-family dancing with Go Noodle; for a calmer take, there are tons of free Cosmic Kids Yoga videos on YouTube.

 


 Want some exercises you and your kiddo can do on your own?

Eric shared a few recommendations: 

  • Use simple household items like a chair, water bottles, and maybe a yoga mat.
  • Try movements that require bilateral coordination, jumping movements, activities that use chairs, and exercises that bear weight on arms and legs. These are especially helpful for kids who need to work on sensory processing and OT.
  • Guide your child to complete a “sensory organizational piece” (essentially a warm-up) before they start the actual exercise activity. This includes arm movements, basic cardio (jumping around to get your heart rate up), doing plank, and trying various balancing positions on a chair. This will lead into the main exercise, such as chair crunches (your child sits on a chair and raises their legs off the ground while remaining seated).
  • Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity per day, but it’s completely dependent on what benefits your child the most.

Does your child have any favorite exercises to do at home? We’d love your suggestions!

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