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The study assessed parental perceptions of the benefits of physical activity (PA) and the factors that influence participation of children with autism spectrum disorders in PA after school. Data were collected from 103 parents using an online open-ended questionnaire and focus-group interviews. Data were analyzed using a socioecological model. Parents provided 225 responses that were coded as advantages, 106 as disadvantages, 225 as facilitators, and 250 as barriers of PA. The most frequently reported advantages were physical, followed by psychosocial, and cognitive. Disadvantages were psychosocial and physical. The most frequently reported barriers were intrapersonal, followed by interpersonal, physical, community, and institutional. Facilitators were intrapersonal, followed by physical, interpersonal, community, and institutional. Public policy factors were elicited in the interviews.
Iva Obrusnikova is with the Behavioral Health and Nutrition Department and Dannielle L. Miccinello is with the Kinesiology and Applied Physiology Department, both at the University of Delaware in Newark.