NAFAPA 2018

Corvallis, Oregon


title 1: 

A systematic review of social skills common to physical activity-based interventions for individuals on the autism spectrum

authors: 

Andrew M. Colombo-Dougovito, PhD, CAPE (1); Jihyun Lee, Ph.D. (2)

affiliation: 

(1) University of North Texas; (2) San Jose State University

Introduction:

Emerging evidence has shown that exercise and physical activity have a great potential benefit for individuals on the autism spectrum (Dillon et al., 2017; Lang et al., 2010).Further PA has been used shown to have many benefits to improve a variety of behavioral including social-communicative behaviors (Bremer, Crozier, & Lloyd, 2016). Yet, there has been a little consensus of the type or amount of PA necessary to improve of social skill development in children and adolescents on the autism spectrum. Thus, the purpose for this review was to synthesize the findings of PA-based interventions that focus on social skills outcomes to identify key components and provide guidance for future research.

Methods:

This review, therefore, systematically examined the published literature since 1990 to 2017 regarding these topic areas. The comprehensive search resulted in eighteen articles that met inclusion criteria.

Results:

Overall, this review revealed a great deal of variability in terms of types of PA, social skills, instruments, and intensity. Included studies showed PA-based interventions that ranged from team sports to individual pursuits to general play. Additionally, studies revealed no agreement regarding the types of social skills that exist in PA settings or improve as a result of PA engagement.

Discussion:

Although the included studies show the benefits of PA-based interventions to assist in the improvement of social skills, there is a significant the lack of consensus about the appropriate social skills to focus outcomes. Without an appropriate construct, evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of PA-based intervention will be difficult. This review provides a foundation for future research that can identify the appropriate components to be included in PA-based interventions and what social skills need to be the focus of the treatments.

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title 2: 

A systematic review of social skills common to physical activity-based interventions for individuals on the autism spectrum

authors: 

Andrew M. Colombo-Dougovito, PhD, CAPE (1); Jihyun Lee, Ph.D. (2)

affiliation: 

(1) University of North Texas; (2) San Jose State University

Introduction:

Evidence has demonstrated a higher frequency of physical inactivity for autistic individuals (Pan & Frey, 2006; Trost et al., 2002; Stanish et al., 2017) that continues to increase as children age into adolescence (MacDonald et al., 2011; Memari et al., 2012). This trend of inactivity is troublesome considering the negative consequences of physical inactivity and the potential benefit of physical activity (PA) for comorbid health conditions and general mental health (Bremer, Crozier, & Lloyd, 2016). Further, research suggests that children are far more likely to engage in PA when parents are physically active (Yao & Rhodes, 2015); yet, families with a child on the autism spectrum are often presented with a range of challenges and stressors regarding all aspects of daily life that limit their PA participation. Though research has examined a variety of these stressors, limited research has explored the barriers faced by these families when accessing PA in community settings.

Methods:

A homogenous purposeful sample was recruited. Through semi-structured interviews, data were collected from families (n=13) to understand their experiences in attempting to access physical activity opportunities. Data were coded thematically according to procedures defined by Miles, Huberman, and Saldana (2013).

Findings:

Families identified four distinct barriers to accessing PA in their community: (1) safety; (2) acceptance in the community; (3) the child with ASDʼs behavior affecting the family activity; and (4) limited opportunity for activity.

Implications:

Themes from the data suggest that participating in PA in the community with a child on the autism spectrum is often quite challenging for families. These findings add to the PA barriers of previous research (Colombo-Dougovito, 2017; Obrusnikova & Miccinello, 2011) and are parallel to barriers described by families of children with other disabilities (Shields & Synnott, 2016). In addressing the presented barriers, researchers and practitioners may create an environment that allows easier access for families.

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title 3: 

Measurement of Health-Related Fitness of Adults with ASD

authors: 

Jason Bishop, PhD, CAPE (1); and Andrew M. Colombo-Dougovito, PhD, CAPE (2)

affiliation: 

(1) University of Auburn; (2) University of North Texas

session description: 

Compared to the general population, young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face significant medical conditions including increased rates of major psychiatric disorders, immune conditions, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. Although physical activity (PA) is known to prevent many medical conditions in the general population including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and some cancers (PAGAC, 2008), many people without disabilities do not meet the minimum PA guidelines for disease prevention, including physical activity objectives outlined in Healthy People 2020. Noting this trend in the general population, a greater proportion of individuals with disabilities, including those with ASD, do not meet these guidelines and typically do not exercise enough to obtain health benefits. Many factors contribute to exercise deficiency among those with ASD including disordered sleep, psychopharmacological medicine, atypical eating patterns, metabolic abnormalities, social anxiety, environmental barriers, and other disabling characteristics associated with ASD. In addition, delays in acquiring proficiency in motor skills and poor physical fitness appear to be associated with physical inactivity of adolescents with ASD. However, when measuring physical activity among this population, ASD symptomology may add extraneous variance resulting in decreased reliability and validity of collected activity data. For example, stemming is a common behavior among individuals on the autism spectrum. Wrist-worn fitness monitors such as Actigraph accelerometers, Fitbit, or Garmin devices have yet to differentiate, account for, and control for stemming behaviors. Tactile sensory sensitivity is another common ASD symptom. Individuals with increased sensitivity to touch may refuse to consistently wear a device throughout a research study, such as an accelerometer, on their body due to the device’s increased stimulation. In order to enhance the validity of collected activity data, it is necessary to evolve evidence-based best measurement practices when assessing physical activity research data among young adult study participants with ASD.