Physical activity or movement in general is a foundation of a healthy body and mind. Many children with ASD require Occupational Therapy to compensate for the gaps in the development of fine and gross motor skills. Also, sensory issues are corrected through regular exercise. The Brain Balance Program developed by Dr. Melillo also emphasize the use of sport activities in correcting the brain imbalance in conditions such as autism and developmental delay.

Occupational Therapy

You can access free Occupational Therapy (OT) for your child if he or she has a diagnosis of autism or ASD. You should contact the medical office that issued a diagnosis for a referral to an OT. In most case, children living in North York, are referred to Child Development Services at North York General Hospital-Branson Site. This clinic has an OT that can put together a program of exercises or a sensory diet for your child.

If your child is attending the school, you may contact your school for a referral to Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). Once the referral is processed a CCAC Occupational Therapist will start working with your child in school. You also have an option to schedule an home-based consultation.

Toronto FUN Guide

Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation has the Welcome Policy. It means if you are a resident of Toronto (including North York, ON) and cannot afford a fee for the City of Toronto sports and recreation programs, you can apply for the Welcome Policy program. Once the application is processed you and your family will get to access gym, pool and other facilities free of charge. If you have some questions about the deadline and the application process, please call 311 or go directly to parks/torontofun/welcome_policy.htm.

Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation offers adapted/specialized programs. That is, they are designed for children with special needs and offer a range of participant support options. To learn more about North York District's Adapted Program/ Integrated Services, please call 416-395-6183.

If you have a small child (the age equivalent is listed in the Guide), you can register one adult for free for the Tot & Caregiver option. That way you can support your child during the regular sports programming at a local community centre.

Also, Agincourt Community Center, 31 Glen Watford Dr., Scarborough, has a Snoezelen Room. It provides a multi-sensory therapeutic environment. To learn more about the schedule or to book a session, please call 416-396-7760.


Sportball's trained, certified Coaches modify their methodology and approach in a variety of sports, games and activities to consider the needs of all participants in each program to ensure that each child can get the most out of their Sportball class.

Although age ranges may vary in Sportball programs, classes may consist of participants who share similar needs and ability levels. This will allow the Coach to adjust the pace of instruction to focus on each participant's needs. Parents or caregivers must remain on-site and may participate with their child in Adapted Sportball programs, if required or requested. Support workers can also be accommodated, please contact their office for more details.

Sportball's Adapted program includes helping children and young adults to: develop and strengthen social skills, improve their sport skills and fitness, learn how to cooperate in team sports and play, and form new friendships. Classes will run with a ratio of 6 participants to 1 Coach and a minimum of 4 participants to ensure the quality and integrity of the program.

While Adapted programs run throughout the Greater Toronto Area, their primary location is the Sportball Sports Centre in Thornhill. Please visit to view schedules and register online or call 905.882.4473 (toll-free 1.877.678.5437) for more assistance.

Rock Climbing

TrueNorthClimbingRock climbing is a great activity that helps stimulate both the development of gross motor skills and cognitive function. It is best to start at a safe and a well-equipped facility that offers professional support and parent training. One of the options in North York is True North Climbing, which is located at the Downsview Park Sports Centre. Usually, the first session and parent training are offered on the same day every Saturday morning. Once a parent gets certified as a rock-climbing instructor, you can come to this facility on any day and climb at your own pace. Have fun!

Home-Based Gym Systems

If you prefer to start at home prior to entering various social setting, you might be interested in purchasing a gym system for your home. Below are a few options.


Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation offers inexpensive leisure swimming and swimming lesson, both regular and as part of their adapted/specialized programs.

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital also has several Swim Programs.

Making Waves is affordable swimming lessons for children with special needs. You need to register online. The entire season's registration fee is $35, which is payable at the pool by either cash or cheque.

Yoga Therapy for Small Children with Autism

Yoga is another great way to provide a fun-based Occupational Therapy for a child with autism. Poses used in child-oriented yoga are focused on balancing the child's sensory and physical needs. As a result of a routine practice, you will be able to promote brain development in your child, which in turn leads to an increase in the cognitive abilities and coordination.

A research shows that Super Brain Yoga exercise may be also beneficial for improving the brain functioning and correcting autism. Please watch a vignette about the benefits of brain yoga and research behind it on YouTube: .

It is a good idea to use video modeling when introducing movements for imitation. There is yoga on DVD "YogaKids with Marsha Wenig". The YogaKids website has some information for parents as well.

There are many providers who can teach yoga to kids with ASD. Here, we provide some basic contact information for one of them. It is up to you to decide whether do yoga at home or to contact a provider/trainer. For example, the trainer and presenter of Janet Williams teaches Yoga once a week in Toronto. Her Children's Yoga Books website has instructional yoga posters, demos and tips.

Martial Art Therapy

Another option is to do some Martial Arts therapy. Adapted karate training is one of the appropriate options for children with ASD. Karate For Change is one of the providers who caters to the ASD population.

"Karate For Change is dedicated to working with children with special needs, including Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. Our program is the first of its kind, solely focused on providing challenging, stimulating, and encouraging environments where our clients are encouraged to set high standards for themselves, and push past their own perceived boundaries. The keyword is "perceived boundaries", for at Karate For Change, we expect all our students, regardless of their perceived special need, to complete their work to the highest standard."

INTERGA Foundation offers Mindfulness Based Martial Arts Program to children with special needs, including ASD

25 Imperial Street Toronto,
Ontario Canada M5P 1B9
Phone: 416-486-8055

"Mindfulness Based Martial Arts (MMA) is a treatment modality that is inclusive of the whole person. It is a therapy that focuses on the mind - cognition, affect, attitudes, behavior and self-instruction and the body - wellness, nutrition, breathing, self-control, body language, body flexibility, body recognition, both under the rubric of Martial Arts Training. Both psycho-educational and experiential, Mindfulness Based Martial Arts is an interactive pedagogy that helps participants "live" what they are learning. Moreover, it is a therapy in which the client's primary motivation is to learn and practice this Martial Arts ideal."

East York Gymnastics Club -

Camps and ASD-related programs

Autism camps focus on helping and understanding kids who are autistic or who have other autism spectrum disorders. You can find a list of summer camps with the support for children with autism on the following websites:

Easter Seals Ontario Recreation Programs
Easter Seals Ontario owns and operates two residential camps for children and youth with physical disabilities. Funding of up to $500 is available for summer recreation programs offered by other organizations.

KIDS IN CAMP is a registered charity which subsidizes camp experiences for children and youth.

Autism Ontario Summer Camp Programs -

Early Learning and Development Nursery School-Play & Learn Site (Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital) - link

YES I CAN! (Enriched Kindergarten, Nursery& Summer Camp )
SUMMER CAMP Counselor Ratio 1:4; Choice of 2, 3 or 5 mornings , 9:00-11:30 AM; Campers 2.3 months to 5 years welcome. Summer Camp registration starts around the Spring Break.
25 Old York Mills Road, Toronto, Ontario M2P 1B5 3335 Yong Street, Toronto ON, M4N 2M1 Tel: 416-486-4911

Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation offers adapted/specialized programs. That is, they are designed for children with special needs and offer a range of participant support options. To learn more about North York District's Adapted Program/ Integrated Services, please call 416-395-6183.
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation have a variety of high quality recreation and leisure programs for individuals of all ages. If you have a disability/special need, and staff support is needed, please:

To receive staff support for a March Break program, call the Adapted & Integrated Services at 416-395-6183 beginning November 15.

The Reena Outreach Program provides quality respite options to individuals with a developmental disability living with their families in the community.

YMCA camps, ages 5-15, The YMCA partners with agencies in the community to provide camp experiences for children and youth with a variety of special needs. Please contact the Summer Camp Registration centre who will direct you to the Special Needs Coordinator 647 439 6611 or 1 877 303 2267.

Geneva Center for Autism
Social Skills Summer Day Camp for ages 4 – 13, ratio 1:3
Bridges Summer Day Camp (funded) for ages 7 – 13, ratio 1:1
Zone Adventure Day Camp for ages 2 – 18, ratio 1:3, children without an ASD are welcome to attend

CH.I.L.D. Camp
Camp Year-Round Address: 9401 Jane Street #305, Vaughan, Ontario

Glenbrook Day Camp at Willowgrove Camp Year-Round Address: 11737 McCowan Road, Stouffville, Ontario

Robin Hood Camp

Brightstart Camp Camp Year-Round
Address: 2950 Keele Street Suite 102 and 202, North York, ON

Bayview Glen Day Camp
Camp Year-Round Address: 275 Duncan Mill Road, Toronto, ON

Adventure Valley Camp
Year-Round Address: 7015 Leslie Street, Thornhill, Ontario

Kidnetix Day Camps
Camp Year-Round Address: 190 Bovaird Drive Unit# 50, Brampton, Ontario

Seneca Summer Camps
1750 Finch Ave East, Toronto, ON
Helping Hands Inclusion Program Contact Kelly Allaire for more information at 416-491-5050 ext. 22305

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