Researchers posit that physical activity (PA) settings may provide an increased opportunity for social interaction. However, little consensus exists regarding the construct of social skills. Moreover, little is known about what type or amount of PA is necessary for individuals on the autism spectrum to benefit from this increased interaction. Thus, this scoping review synthesized the components (e.g., design, participants, independent and dependent variables, etc.) and findings of PA-based interventions that included social skill components to identify how interventions have incorporated these skills in different settings. Based on a review of 25 articles, this review revealed a great deal of variability in the types of PA, social skills, and instruments studied, as well as the intensity of intervention delivery in the published findings. No longitudinal studies were identified as a part of the search. These results provide a foundation for the design of effective PA-based interventions that may have an increased impact on the social skills of individuals on the autism spectrum. Future research should employ longitudinal designs to capture the relationship between social skills and PA, as well as to increase the likelihood of capturing change.
Jihyun Lee, Seung Ho Chang, and Jerred Jolin
The motor and social skill difficulties experienced by many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can create challenges when participating in age appropriate physical activity contexts. Although behavioral interventions can increase the general social communicative skills of children with ASD, often the skills targeted are not relevant to physical activity contexts. Thus, this pilot study utilized a movement-based intervention program to support children with ASD in learning both social and movement skills that are relevant to physical activity contexts. Nineteen children with ASD with a mean age of 9.3 (±3.0) years participated in this program for 8 weeks, twice a week, at a recreation center as an afterschool activity. Six object control skills were selected and tested before and after the intervention because these gross motor skills were considered to elicit human interactions and place demands on social skills. Ten social skills were selected, aligned to each program context, taught, and evaluated. This intervention resulted in significant improvements in object-control skills for the participants. Additionally, there were significantly more participants who demonstrated improvements in their performance of the target social skills than who did not demonstrate improvements. These preliminary findings provide support for the feasibility of developing interventions that address social skill deficits in the context of physically active settings for children with ASD.
Seung Ho Chang, Kyungun Kim, Jihyun Lee, and Sukho Lee
Background: Children and youths from low-income families and certain ethnic minority groups show high levels of risk and vulnerability to physical inactivity. The aim of this review was to examine the effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity (PA) in children and youths from low-income and ethnic minority (LIEM) families. Methods: Eight databases were systematically searched for PA interventions for LIEM children and youths. Twenty-six studies were included in the analyses. Effect sizes (ESs) were calculated using a random-effects model. The ESs were computed using Hedges g with 95% confidence interval. Results: There were small to medium effects of interventions on PA in LIEM children and youth (Q = 1499.193, df = 30, P < .05; I 2 = 97.999). Analyses on the moderator variables showed that ES for participants aged 9–12 years (ES = 0.542, P = .01); intervention length less than 13 weeks (ES = 0.561, P = .01); specialists as the intervention agent (ES = 0.680, P < .05); interventions without technology (ES = 0.363, P = .02); and interventions with a behavioral modification component (ES = 0.336, P = .03) were significantly different from zero. Conclusion: PA intervention can be an effective strategy to increase PA for LIEM children and youths.
Justin A. Haegele, Jihyun Lee, and David L. Porretta
The purpose of this documentary analysis was to examine trends in research published in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly (APAQ) over a 10-yr span. A total of 181 research articles published from 2004 to 2013 were coded and analyzed using the following categories: first-author country affiliation, theoretical framework, intervention, research methods, disability categories, and topical focus. Results indicate high frequencies of nonintervention and group-design studies, as well as a low frequency of studies that describe a theoretical or conceptual framework. Trends in disability of participants and topical focus reflect current interests of researchers publishing in APAQ. While some scholars have suggested that changes in research on adapted physical activity would occur, the results of this analysis suggest that many of these categories remain largely unchanged for research published in APAQ. This study calls attention to similarities between the results of the current analysis and previous ones.
Justin A. Haegele, Jihyun Lee, and David L. Porretta
In the article by Haegele, J.A., Lee, L., and Porretta, D.L., “Research trends in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly from 2004 to 2013”, in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 32(3), 187–205, an incorrect DOI was printed. The correct DOI for that article is http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/APAQ.2014-0232.