Purpose: To determine whether participation in aerobic exercise before classroom activities improves academic engagement and reduces stereotypic behaviors in young children with autism spectrum disorder.
Methods: This study employed a within-subjects crossover design, using a treatment condition (aerobic exercise) and a control condition, across 4 classrooms. The treatment condition included 15 minutes of running/jogging followed by a classroom task. The control condition included a classroom task not preceded by exercise. The number of stereotypic behaviors, percentage of on-task behavior, and correct/incorrect responses were measured. The Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to compare differences between conditions.
Results: Statistically significant improvements were found in correct responding following exercise (P < .05). No significant differences were found for on-task behavior or stereotypic behaviors.
Conclusions: Consistent with findings in older children, these results indicate that aerobic exercise prior to classroom activities may improve academic responding in young children with autism spectrum disorder.
The authors found that aerobic exercise prior to classroom activities may improve academic responding in young children with ASD.
Department of Physical Therapy, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania.
Correspondence: Kathryn N. Oriel, PT, EdD, Department of Physical Therapy, Lebanon Valley College, 101 N College Ave, Annville, PA 17003 (email@example.com).
Grant Support: This study was funded by the PLEET Grant through Lebanon Valley College.