Autism affects a persons social interactions, communication, interests and behaviour. From coaching children diagnosed with autism at the weekly Bristol Climbing Club sessions over the last year, I’ve seen a wealth of benefits that are not just physical. Want to find out what benefits climbing can bring to children with autism ……then keep on reading.
Climbing requires physical strength, stamina and balance to move up or across the climbing wall utilising both fine and gross motor skills. Its a whole body workout which in itself releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in your body. This in itself is great but climbing offers so much more…….
Climbing is simple in its aims, you start at the bottom and you try and climb to the top of whatever you have decided to climb. Because of its simplicity its easy to pick up but constantly challenging for prolonged interest. Climbing builds peoples confidence because every wall or route presents a new challenge, just getting to the top of the climbing wall is a victory in itself. This can then help to put into perspective other challenges in peoples lives.
Bouldering routes (climbing without ropes and harnesses) are known as “problems” for a good reason. Climbing needs problem solving skills and focus to execute the moves in a way as to climb the “problem” successfully and this can take a great deal of perseverance and focus .
Climbing requires a great amount of body awareness , awareness of the space around you, and how you are moving you’re body through it as well as awareness of others around you.
One of the key benefits in my view is trusting other people and accepting that others trust you . In bouldering you are trusting that someone is spotting you, guiding you towards a bouldering mat, whereas climbing on ropes you trust your belay partner is holding the ropes correctly and will “catch” your fall and prevent you from hitting the ground.
Although climbing is an individual sport, in that it is the climber, their experience, their ability and their skill that gets them to the top, it is very sociable . There is plenty of down time in-between climbs to interact with other people , create friends with opportunities to work out boulder “problems” together and share in other peoples successes and yours.
Over 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK alone. Autism being a spectrum condition means each child is unique in his or her diagnosis. These characteristics shape their distinctive interests, strengths and challenges so parents are encouraged to explore these traits with their child. Climbing will not be for every child with autism but with so many benefits it is definitely worth giving it a go.
Individual sessions can also be tailored for specific needs at indoor walls or at outdoor climbing venues around Bristol or further afield by getting in contact with Adventure Awaits .