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.
Jihyun Lee, Seung Ho Chang, and Jerred Jolin
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.