Deporte para niños con TEA: tipos y beneficios

Todos conocemos las ventajas del deporte y muchos lo practicamos y disfrutamos. ¿Por que no entonces pensamos en los beneficios del deporte para niños con TEA?

El ejercicio es una parte fundamental para nuestro desarrollo, tanto en la infancia como en el resto de nuestra vida.

Es parte de nuestro ocio, de nuestra vida social, y de nuestra integración en la sociedad. Participar en algún deporte y en actividades de ocio con un componente de ejercicio intenso es bueno para cualquier niño incluyendo aquellos que tienen un Trastorno del Espectro Autista.

La actividad física, ese cansancio que parece que nos libera de tensiones, ansiedades, y preocupaciones, puede ayudar a sentirse mejor a un niño o niña con o sin autismo.

La investigación sobre el ejercicio físico nos ha demostrado que el deporte:

  1. Disminuye el estrés
  2. Mejora la salud en general
  3. Aumenta las habilidades motoras
  4. Aumenta la confianza en sí mismo y su autocepto
  5. Ayuda a desarrollar habilidades individuales (confianza en uno mismo, disciplina, responsabilidad, trabajo por objetivos)
  6. Ayuda a desarrollar habilidades sociales (comunicación, compañerismo, trabajo coordinado).

Si queremos ofrecer una educación global a nuestros hijos e hijas no debemos olvidarnos del deporte, ya que puede estar presente en todas las etapas de la vida formando parte del tiempo de ocio y de la calidad de vida, favoreciendo también la inclusión.

Y sin olvidarnos de que ante todo los niños y niñas son eso, niños y niñas que necesitan jugar y divertirse.

Todos tenemos una habilidad especial, pasiones y gustos que hacen que desempeñemos ciertas actividades de una manera excepcional. 

Muchas veces los padres se preguntan cuál es el mejor deporte para niños con TEA, y la respuesta a veces es más sencilla de lo que parece: hay que dejarse guiar por sus gustos y preferencias y por aquello que se le dé bien; hay que encontrar su actividad, y no la que le guste a los padres. 

Los beneficios se obtienen, en mayor o menor medida, en todos los deportes, y si le gusta tendrá más constancia y estará más feliz.

Partiendo de esta base, cualquier deporte es bienvenido, encontrando en la actualidad experiencias de personas con TEA que practican desde baloncesto, natación, atletismo, etc., hasta surf, artes marciales, e incluso paracaidismo.

Eso sí, siempre adaptándonos a ellos y adecuando las actividades a las habilidades y destrezas de la persona.

Tres puntos a tener en cuenta con niños y niñas TEA, antes de empezar a practicar un deporte:

  1. Empezar con deportes individuales: así ayudaremos a que el niño o niña se vaya acostumbrando a la práctica deportiva. Una vez familiarizados con el deporte es importante que pasemos a deportes donde al niño o niña se le permita relacionarse con otras personas.
  2. Ambientes estructurados: actividades con un principio y un fin, donde ya esté todo planificado.
  3. Cuidar su integridad física: estar muy pendientes de ellos durante la práctica deportiva.  Los niños con autismo se fatigan más fácilmente, en muchos casos pueden sentir sed, cansancio o demás cosas de las que no serán conscientes.

Entre los deportes más practicados por niños con TEA están los siguientes:

  1. Natación: la natación es posiblemente el deporte para niños con TEA número uno. A muchos les encantan las sensaciones de la piscina, los movimientos en el agua, bucear,…; incluso los que tiene pocas habilidades motoras y no son tan hábiles pueden manejarse muy bien en los ejercicios de brazos y pies de la natación. También permite participar en un equipo donde cada nadador compite individualmente, con lo que se puede aprender el formar parte de un grupo sin sentir el agobio de las dificultades de comunicación o de integración en la estrategia de equipo.
  2. Running: es curioso como enseñamos a los niños pequeños deportes complejos como el fútbol o el baloncesto mientras que lo más natural, correr y saltar, lo hacemos normalmente con niños y niñas mayores. Además, el running requiere menos habilidades de comunicación que la mayoría de los deportes de equipos.
  3. Equitación: es un deporte excelente para los niños y niñas con autismo. De hecho, algunos niños y niñas con un TEA van cada semana a montar unas horas a caballo como parte de su terapia, la llamada equinoterapia. No es raro que a muchos niños y niñas con autismo les resulte más fácil comunicarse con animales que con otras personas y algunos tienen resultados excelentes como jinetes.
  4. Bolos: a pesar del ruido de las boleras, los bolos suelen ser de las actividades preferidas por bastantes niños y niñas con autismo. Puede ser debido a la predictibilidad de las jugadas: tiras dos veces y te sientas o al movimiento de los bolos cayendo o la bola deslizándose por la pista.
  5. Ciclismo: personalmente, considero que la bicicleta es el mejor regalo que un niño puede recibir. Montar en bicicleta puede ser algo difícil para los niños con autismo, debido a que no consiguen mantener el equilibrio con facilidad, algo que se puede solucionar con un triciclo o con paciencia. Pero una vez que han dominado la técnica básica, el ciclismo puede ser una forma maravillosa de disfrutar del aire libre. Como muchos de los deportes que estamos describiendo se puede practicar solo o en grupo y de forma competitiva o solo por disfrutarlo. Puede tardar un poco más en aprender, no ser especialmente habilidoso, pero puede disfrutar de la bici como cualquier otro niño, esa sensación del aire en la cara, del paseo tranquilo, de explorar caminos… También merece la pena intentarlo y ver si éste es su deporte.
  6. Senderismo: para mucha gente con TEA, la paz y silencio de la naturaleza libera de mucho estrés. El senderismo, que puede ser una actividad individual o en grupo, es una forma fácil de hacer ejercicio y disfrutar del campo o la montaña sin la presión de imponer una comunicación social intensa.
  7. Pesca: como en el caso del senderismo, la pesca es una actividad interesante para cualquier niño o adulto con TEA que disfrute la vida al aire libre, el contacto con la naturaleza y el silencio.
  8. Artes marciales: las artes marciales combinan los elementos de predictibilidad y reglas claras con el reto que significa la interacción física con otras personas. Para muchos niños con autismo, las artes marciales ayudan a desarrollar habilidades físicas (equilibrio, fuerza) al mismo tiempo que mejoran características psicológicas (autoestima, disciplina).

En el caso del Trastorno del Espectro Autista, en la gran mayoría de los casos tienen intereses restringidos, por lo que puede resultar complicado presentarles una actividad nueva y desconocida.

Pero esa oposición a lo nuevo no puede ser indicativo de que esa actividad no sea buena para ellos, ni de que no vayan a disfrutar, ni se les vaya a dar bien.

Existen ciertos factores, que incluyen aspectos motores, que pueden asociarse al autismo, aunque no son necesarios para su diagnóstico: alteraciones en la motricidad como el retraso motor, la debilidad muscular (hipotonía) y problemas de coordinación, equilibrio, etc.


Las principales causas de estas alteraciones se deben a las deficiencias a nivel del sistema vestibular, sistema relacionado con el equilibrio y el control espacial, y el propiocetivo, que informa al organismo de la posición de los músculos y articulaciones.

Por ello son aspectos muy importantes que deben ser trabajados con la consideración que realmente requieren y con la mayor calidad y profesionalidad posible. Aspectos que pueden trabajarse mientras se practica deporte.

Pero lo más importante es el proceso de transformación mediante el cual una persona genera nuevos comportamientos y aptitudes que dan como resultado una mejora de su calidad de vida.

Esto dentro de la actividad física y del autismo se traduce en igualdad de oportunidades, incremento de la autonomía, mejora el estado psicológico y es un importante elemento de cohesión social.

Para ello es preciso que el objetivo principal de las actividades sea el disfrute en el aprendizaje

El mayor trabajo que tenemos que hacer aquellos que realmente vemos las actividades físico-deportivas como lo que realmente son, con su importancia y sus beneficios, es conseguir promover estas actividades y que se consideren de igual importancia que aquellas terapias y actividades que a día de hoy tienen un peso muy importancia en la educación de niños con autismo.

“No puedes poner límites a nada, cuanto más sueñas, más lejos llegas” (Michael Phelps, el mayor medallista olímpico, con un trastorno de neurodesarrollo y síndrome de Marfan)

fuente:

Marina Roy, psicóloga en Red Cenit

Esta entrada fue publicada en AUTISMO, DIVULGACIÓN. Guarda el enlace permanente.

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