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Improving the quality of life of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders through athletic-based therapy programs

  • Michelle Jimeno (a1)

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a multifaceted disorder that is pervasive across sensory, behavioural, emotional, social and motor dysfunction. Research suggests up to 50% of children diagnosed with ASD demonstrate motor difficulties. An inability to perform complex motor movements often leads to preference for simple and sedentary activities. Furthermore, social communication difficulties significantly impair the ability to engage in group activities and form peer relationships. The Sports and Recreation Group is a fee-based athletic program that aims to provide a structured environment to engage children and adolescents with ASD in a small therapeutic group program. Resistance training, plyometric, and balance and coordination are examples of some of the complex motor movements implemented. The group consisted of four participants diagnosed with ASD, aged 9–16 years. Duration involved two blocks of 8 consecutive weeks across three terms. Baseline data was collected from participant self-reports and parent reports using the PedsQL™ and again at 6-months follow-up. Results from this case study highlighted an increase in motor abilities and quality of life by enhancing the individual’s functional movements and psychosocial functioning. This article argues for the inclusion of athletic programs to be integrated as part of the therapeutic planning for children and adolescents with ASD.

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Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Michelle Jimeno, Email: michelle.jimeno@brightfaces.com.au

References

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Improving the quality of life of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders through athletic-based therapy programs

  • Michelle Jimeno (a1)

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