Rock climbing is a physically demanding indoor/outdoor activity that involves motor planning, high concentration and sequential thought, among other skills. For the children who have physical limitations or cognitive and sensory deficits, rock climbing is a very challenging activity yet they can reap many advantages from it. Rock climbing is very tactile, both in holds and in the texture of the walls. The holds are brightly coloured with different shapes so are visually stimulating. Children with autism that have sensory needs can try out this activity too as this helps them to retain more information in learning. No matter a physical, cognitive, communication or sensory disability, there is a degree of participation that can be attained. Several advantages of rock climbing that relate to certain disabilities are listed below:
1. Sensory disabilities
Children can gain exposure to movement and sensory input which help in motor processing through climbing. Climbing provides children’s bodies proprioceptive input (being aware of body and movement in relation to its joints) and develops the vestibular system. The pressure they feel in their muscles and joints can help internal regulation. Moreover, rock climbing looks visually inviting to children and may serve as a motivator for them to climb, encourage increased movement.
2. Physical disabilities
Core strength and muscle tone are always positively affected by climbing. Therefore, children can improve their hands, arms and legs strength when having rock climbing. Other than that, the eye-hand and eye-foot coordination are practiced and children need to fully focus while climbing to prevent falling down. Children who have physical limitations generally participate in sedentary activities. Climbing, at whatever physical level possible, gives body movement that can increase circulation and assist in digestion. Also, the range of motion activities can increase flexion and extension, which aids prevent muscle atrophy.
3. Cognitive disabilities
Action concepts such as on/off, up/down, right/left, go/stop can all be incorporated into climbing. This helps children learn and understand these words because they are experiencing them verbally as well as kinesthetically. Furthermore, rock climbing allows children to face with choosing a particular path and this develops their decision-making skills. In addition, facing the climbing wall and scanning the wall constantly for the next hold to reach for can help take away auxiliary distractions and improve their attention. This makes children think more sequentially. Also, children will able to concentrate better and attend to cognitive task after they have been managed to use control their entire body in activity.