Enjoyment, Barriers, and Beliefs About Physical Activity in Adolescents With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Massachusetts Boston
  • | 2 University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • | 3 Tufts University School of Medicine
Restricted access

The authors compared physical activity enjoyment, perceived barriers, beliefs, and self-efficacy between adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing (TD) adolescents. A questionnaire was verbally administered to 35 adolescents with ASD and 60 TD adolescents. Compared with TD adolescents, fewer adolescents with ASD enjoyed team sports (65% vs. 95%, p < .001) and physical education (84% vs. 98%, p = .02). A greater proportion of adolescents with ASD perceived that physical activities were too hard to learn (16% vs. 0%, p < .01), and fewer believed that physical activity was a way to make friends (68% vs. 97%, p < .001). Fewer adolescents with ASD preferred to do physical activity in their free time (25% vs. 58%, p < .01). Most adolescents with ASD felt that physical activity is fun (84%), but the proportion was lower than in TD adolescents (98%, p = .03). Some perceptions about physical activity were similar between the 2 groups, but differences identified may inform program development.

Stanish is with the Dept. of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA. Curtin, Maslin, and Bandini are with the E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Charlestown, MA. Bandini is also with Boston University, Boston, MA. Must and Phillips are with the Dept. of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.

Address author correspondence to Heidi Stanish at heidi.stanish@umb.edu