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Angling and Autism

Discover the Wellbeing Benefits of Angling 

Unlocking the Therapeutic Potential of  Angling for Autism

Angling holds considerable therapeutic potential for individuals with autism, as it effectively targets key aspects of the triad of impairment – social interaction, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviours. This engaging activity offers a host of benefits, both during and after a fishing session, that can substantially mitigate challenging behaviours among those with autism. Moreover, it can trigger the release of specific hormones and neurochemicals, thereby assisting autistic individuals in coping with various challenges

Social Interaction Enhancement:

Angling provides a structured and predictable environment that is particularly conducive to the comfort and well-being of individuals with autism. This inherent predictability helps reduce anxiety and facilitates social engagement.

The shared nature of fishing creates opportunities for bonding with family members, friends, or therapists, fostering social interaction and the development of meaningful relationships.

Conversations surrounding the fishing experience, catches, or the natural environment offer a genuine context for honing communication and social skills.

Communication Facilitation:

Fishing introduces non-verbal forms of communication through actions like casting, reeling, and signalling, making it less overwhelming and more accessible for individuals with autism.

The serene fishing environment is rife with opportunities for exploration and discussion of topics like aquatic life, ecosystems, and conservation, offering a platform for improving communication around shared interests.

Mitigation of Repetitive Behaviours:

The rhythmic, repetitive actions involved in fishing, such as casting and reeling, can have a calming and self-regulating effect, aiding in the reduction of self-stimulatory behaviours.

Patience and self-control, developed through the waiting and anticipation inherent in fishing, offer a constructive means for curbing impulsive behaviours.

Alternative Learning Pathways

Angling can be a unique and effective tool for teaching challenging subjects like mathematics, especially in an experiential and real-world context

Angling requires problem-solving skills, such as determining the best bait, assessing weather conditions, and making decisions based on probabilities. This fosters critical thinking and strategic problem-solving abilities in students.​

Anglers often track their catches by recording the species, size, and location. This data can be used to teach students about data collection, organization, and analysis.

Furthermore, angling can stimulate the release of hormones and neurochemicals that hold therapeutic value for individuals with autism:

Stress Reduction:

The idyllic, natural setting of a river or lake can act as a haven for stress and anxiety reduction, serving to ameliorate challenging behaviours that often stem from sensory sensitivities in individuals with autism.

The act of fishing itself can be meditative, as the repetitive motions of casting and reeling instil a sense of serenity and calm.

Dopamine Release:

Successfully catching a fish and experiencing achievement in angling endeavours can prompt the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter closely associated with pleasure and reward. This, in turn, can uplift mood and motivation.

Cortisol Regulation:

Time spent in natural settings and participation in enjoyable activities, like fishing, can help regulate cortisol, the stress hormone. By curbing cortisol levels, individuals may experience reduced irritability and anxiety.

Angling presents an exceptional therapeutic avenue for individuals with autism by systematically addressing the triad of impairment through social interaction, communication opportunities, and a structured, repetitive activity. Together with the tranquil natural setting and resultant neurochemical responses work together to curtail challenging behaviours, promote relaxation, and enhance overall well-being, making it an invaluable therapeutic tool for individuals on the autism spectrum.

But most of all its just how great it makes people feel, we think this is beautifully summed up by Harry (aged 12) in his own words. (Duncan is our Course Director)

" Fishing has really help me with life because I have autism which means I struggle in life more than others. And that's where fishing comes in and Duncan has helped me a lot with it in lots of ways. Like teaching me how to fish places I have fished but haven't caught. Thanks to Duncan I had a session with him and had an 8lb carp which was my personal best at the time. Because of Duncan I was able to catch some 15lb carp at a night session me and my Mum did. 

I was trying for a Tench for ages and then Duncan me to a Tench and Crucian Carp lake where we got my first ever Tench which was 3lb and my first ever Crucian carp. I was getting loads of an a pretty big one at 2lb which is pretty big for a Crucian. Then we went Perch and had some pretty big ones, biggest 3lb which smashed my pb and also had a fun boat ride.  I cant wait for when we do some more sessions."

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