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Beyond the Motor Domain: Exploring the Secondary Effects of a Fundamental Motor Skill Intervention for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Leanne K. Elliott, Jonathan A. Weiss, and Meghann Lloyd

Early motor skill interventions have been shown to improve the motor skill proficiency of children with autism spectrum disorder; however, little is known about the secondary effects associated with these types of interventions (e.g., influence on behavior, social skills, family dynamics). The purpose of this qualitative study was to (a) investigate parents’ perceptions of the child-level benefits associated with a fundamental motor skill intervention for their 4-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder and (b) explore how child-level benefits influenced the family unit. Eight parents (N = 8) were interviewed (semistructured) about their experiences with the intervention for their child(ren); the study was grounded in phenomenology. Five main child-level benefits emerged, including improvements with (a) motor skills, (b) social skills, (c) listening skills, (d) turn-taking skills, and (e) transition skills. The child-level benefits then extended to family members in a number of ways (e.g., more positive sibling interactions). These findings highlight several important secondary effects that should be investigated in future research.