21 Feb 2023

What are the best sports for a child with autism?

Sports provide an excellent outlet for improving your child’s mental and physical health. For autistic children, they may find the prospect of doing sports to …

Sports provide an excellent outlet for improving your child’s mental and physical health. For autistic children, they may find the prospect of doing sports to be challenging, particularly ones that require working in a team, such as football, cricket, and rugby.

Before getting them involved in any sport, you should take their interests into account. Allow them to try multiple sports over a certain period as they’ll find one that they’ll enjoy. Taking a gradual approach is essential as it will make the process easier for them.

Our article has picked some of the best sports for your child with autism to play in a team or individual setting.

Martial arts 

Individual sports are great for a child with autism, particularly martial arts such as karate, capoeira, judo and jiu-jitsu. It’s worth noting that we don’t recommend martial arts as a sport if your child is aggressive or cannot control themselves. 

Focus, discipline and fitness are some of the main components of martial arts. The sport allows children to combat any stress and anxiety that they may have. With martial arts having plenty of repetitive movements, it means that the child can build and develop new skills at their own pace.

As some forms of martial arts are full-contact sports, it’s worth taking this into consideration when getting your child involved in the sport.


Swimming is a fantastic individual and team sport for children with autism. The calming nature of the water as they float on the water can allow your child to let go of any mental and physical stress that they may have. 

If your child is interested in competing at a competitive level, they can learn the different strokes at their own pace. Not only can swimming improve your child’s social skills, but also build up their self esteem as they are able to build friendships with other young children and swimming coaches. 


Cycling is a fantastic sport for children with autism. It shares a lot in common with swimming as it can be done individually or in a group.

The sport teaches your child stamina, independence, and balance, which are key when it comes to riding a bike. If your son or daughter struggles with body control and awareness, then it’s worth getting them some training wheels to begin with. Once they develop confidence with the bike, you can eventually take the wheels off your child’s bike and let them enjoy the outdoors themselves.

Whether they cycle for fun or competitively, cycling is a sport that can be easily incorporated into their routine.


Golf is a sport that’s naturally well-suited for children with ASD. If your child struggles with loud noises and environments, the quiet nature of golf makes it an ideal sport for them to participate in.

Not only does golf promote problem solving and motor skills, but it also enables children to learn turn-taking. For example, if your child has played first on the course, they’ll have to wait until the other children have had a go. Golf also allows your child to get plenty of exercise as they’ll be doing plenty of walking around the courses they’re playing on. 


Bowling is one of the best sports for your child with autism to participate in. They will be attracted to the repetitive and rewarding nature of seeing the pins fall down. The sport has many benefits for children with autism. 

Not only can it improve their social interaction and behavioural skills, but it also teaches them patience. With bowling, they will have to wait for other children to have a go before they can go onto the lane and play again. 

Unlike other sports that are played outdoors, bowling is an indoor sport, which makes it great for children who struggle with sensory overload.

There are plenty of sports for children with autism that can be played individually or in a team. It’s all about finding a sport that your son or daughter can play and incorporate into their routine.

If you have waited months or years trying to get an autism diagnosis for your child, that’s where The Autism Service can help. Our child autism assessment service offers a full NICE guideline diagnostic assessment that will tell you if your child is on the autism spectrum or not. 

We have multiple clinics located across the UK, where you can book an autism assessment for your child. For any questions about how we do assessments to find out if your child has an autism spectrum disorder or how to arrange a child autism assessment, you can contact our team today.

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