What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The National Autism Association defines Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a bio-neurological developmental disability that appears before age three. It states that ASD impacts brain development in social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with ASD generally find social interactions stressful, overwhelming, and anxiety-inducing. However, it doesn’t stop there. ASD affects physical abilities as well. 

Many children who have ASD have issues with balance. And, because children with ASD experience high social anxiety levels, they are less likely to want to participate in after school sports. They are also less likely to play with other kids on the playground during recess, further decreasing the physical activity they engage in every day.

And, for many families with autistic children, or children with other neurological disorders, quarantine, homeschool, and remote work during this pandemic may seem nearly impossible. 

How Can a Sit-Stand Desk Benefit my Child if They Have ASD?

Autism Spectrum Disorder mostly impacts the development of social skills. However, it doesn’t stop there. Because the disorder is neurological, it affects the way the brain communicates with everything throughout the body. 

As previously mentioned, children with ASD tend to have issues with balance. Studies show that doing regular physical therapy for balance can make the effect almost wholly disappear. Many individuals come so far as to excel in various sports or other physical activities. However, getting over this battle takes a lot of time and effort to live an active lifestyle.  Unfortunately, studies also show that a sedentary lifestyle can reverse the work done to improve an individual’s balance. 

Decreasing Stress & Anxiety Levels

Physical movement is proven to decrease stress and anxiety levels for us all. However, individuals, especially children, with ASD tend to experience high levels of anxiety regardless of activity levels. And, among many other things, anxiety can trigger worsened balance skills, increasing the need for individuals with ASD to exercise regularly and to move often.

Spending time standing in an upright position helps keep the body in shape to handle increased stress on individuals’ neurological systems during these anxiety attacks. With a sit-stand desk, students can fidget, move around, or perform physical coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety when necessary.. They can be physically active while remote learning, taking part in zoom meetings, or even speaking one-on-one with a therapist through their computer.

Additionally, standing increases oxygen and blood flow throughout the body and brain. Increasing blood flow is extremely important for children with ASD for many reasons. One reason being that it aids greatly with focus issues and helps prevent children from becoming too easily distracted. When paired with a steady routine and a clean space, a sit-stand solution can significantly decrease stress and anxiety levels in individuals with ASD. Kyle, a child from New Hampshire with ASD, says, “I love it because I am tired of sitting, and I work harder and better standing, thank you.”

Sit-Stand Desks Can Encourage Children

Encouraging children, especially those with ASD, to get up and exercise can be extremely challenging. With so many digital devices available to children nowadays, kids aren’t getting nearly enough physical activity. Often, children with ASD don’t enjoy playing team sports and have trouble playing outside with other children. Because of their increased social anxiety levels, it is difficult for children with ASD to feel comfortable around other kids and much more difficult to enjoy playing with them. This issue can lead to further difficulty in getting the proper amount of physical movement throughout each day. With a sit-stand solution, children can work some necessary physical exercise into their day as they learn and use their computer. 

Standing alone speeds up the metabolism and helps increase balance through strengthening the leg and core muscles. There is also the option of adding some light movement to increase physical activity. Raising the heels up and down will work the calves, lifting the knee to the chest will work the thighs and hips, arm circles can work the shoulders and back. All of these exercises can be done mindlessly while watching the screen.

Switching to a sit-stand desk solution is a big step and a fantastic investment in the future of your child’s health. If your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be challenging to keep them focused, engaged, and physically active while learning from home. It is also a massive task for a parent to take on. A sit-stand desk could be the tool you need to give them a better learning experience and to make remote learning a lot easier on you as the parent.

Works Cited

Autism Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/autism-fact-sheet/
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/childrens-hospital/developmental-disabilities/conditions/asd.aspx
Movement Breaks in the Classroom. (2019, June 22). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://teachingautism.co.uk/movement-breaks-what-and-why/
Physical Fitness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/physical-fitness
RESEARCH: Why Classrooms Need Movement Everyday. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.gonoodle.com/blog/research-why-classrooms-need-movement-everyday/
Stins, J., & Emck, C. (2018, June 5). Balance Performance in Autism: A Brief Overview. Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5996852/
To Boost Learning, Just Add Movement. (2020, June 13). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/movement/