• Sportrock

Autism and Sensory Friendly Climbing

Updated: Jan 20

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 the core features which young people on the autism spectrum are faced with daily, there are also many comorbidities which vary from individual to individual. Whether a physical, cognitive, communication or sensory disability, rock climbing can be beneficial. Some of the many benefits of rock climbing as they relate to certain disabilities are described below:

  1. Climbing makes us 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 of these benefits of climbing, we understand that there are external stimuli that can be overwhelming in the rock climbing gym and make rock climbing as a sport less approachable for young people on the autism spectrum. Ask your local gym about Sensory Friendly Climbing! At Sportrock Sterling, on the first Sunday of every month from 9am to 10am the gym is open exclusively to kids and families on the autism spectrum. 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 molly@sportrock.com.

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