Autism World Awareness Day

Autism is a disorder that affects around 1% of the population worldwide, while in South Africa, it is estimated only 10% of individuals with autism are correctly diagnosed. Autism falls under an umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which also includes disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger syndrome.

Autism is a developmental disability, and people face challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. Learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities ranged from gifted to severely impaired. Individuals also suffer with issues including gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression. Autism is a result of biology and not psychology, where each person person is affected in a different manner. Autism is usually diagnosed by the age of 2-3, and four times more common in body than girls.

A few signs of autism include:

  • Lack of awareness of other people, and prefer to play alone
  • Self-harming behaviour including scratching, biting and banging their head
  • Habits including rocking, hand flapping, spinning objects
  • Speech and language can absent or delayed.
  • Do not like being held or cuddled.
  • Acts as if they are deaf, minimal reaction to verbal cues
  • Distressed when environment or routine is changed
  • Sudden laughing or crying, or tantrums for no apparent reason
  • Attachment to objects
  • Little or no eye contact with other people



Exercise has shown to have a positive effect on people with autism. Exercise for 20 minutes can help reduce stereotypical behaviors, hyperactivity and aggression. The exercise is important as it helps them better engage in the environment, as well as helping with weight loss and improving their overall quality of life. It has been shown that filly body exercises help as they enhance strength, endurance, coordination and body awareness. Exercises that can be beneficial include bear crawls, big arm circles, star jumps and medicine ball throws. When doing the exercises, it is vital that positive reinforcement used, so always be calm and supportive, therefore not letting them get upset and frustrated.


If needed, please get help from a Biokineticist to guide the exercise process for a person with autism, and together lets improve their quality of life!

Article by: Gary Miller, Biokineticist, Body Innovation

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