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  • Writer's pictureSportrock

Autism and Sensory Friendly Climbing

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Children and young people on the autism spectrum (and their parents and caretakers) face many issues and challenges on a day-to-day basis.


While there are core features that young people on the autism spectrum face daily, many comorbidities also vary from individual to individual. Rock climbing can benefit anyone with a physical, cognitive, communication, or sensory disability. Some of the many benefits of rock climbing as they relate to certain disabilities are described below:

  1. Climbing benefits those with motor skill difficulties by making them aware of our body and movement in relation to our joints.

  2. Problem-solving and decision-making are highly involved in climbing as individuals decide where to put their hands and feet as they are climbing. This also helps with thinking sequentially.

  3. Climbing is a very tactile activity with a visually inviting motivator for children to climb.

  4. Gaining exposure to movement and sensory input can help with motor processing.

  5. Communication is huge in climbing, from listening to someone suggest a hand color hold to reach for to more formal climbing commands.

  6. Climbing is an individual movement and thus a perfect activity for individuals who may not like physical contact.

  7. Action concepts such as left/right, up/down, etc. can be incorporated into climbing. This will help children understand these words as they are experiencing them verbally as well as kinesthetically.

  8. Physical activity has the benefit of increased focus post-activity.

In light of all these benefits of climbing, we understand that external stimuli can be overwhelming in the rock climbing gym and make rock climbing a sport less approachable for young people on the autism spectrum.

Ask your local gym about Sensory Friendly Climbing! At Sportrock Sterling, the gym is open exclusively to kids and families on the autism spectrum once a month. The music and lights will be off (natural light only), and the gym will be a much more laid-back experience. If you have any questions about Sensory Friendly Climbing at Sportrock, please email

Sportrock also provides adaptive climbing for people with Parkinson's Disease.

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