Pediatric Physical Therapy

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Pediatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e318218f149
Research Article

The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Academic Engagement in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Oriel, Kathryn N. PT, EdD; George, Cheryl L. PhD; Peckus, Rebecca DPT; Semon, Amanda DPT

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Abstract

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.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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