Background: Physical activity is now widely accepted as a measure to reduce stereotypic behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, several issues exist concerning the effects of physical activity on stereotypic behaviors, such as inconsistency with research methodology. The present study which was different from previous investigations as it attempted to address those issues because it classified the intensity of physical activity using heart rate, monitored the children’s behavior over a span of 4 hours after physical activity and documented how long stereotypic behavior reduction lasted. The regimented exercise routine was also enriched with fun and motivational activities.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of physical activity on stereotypical behaviors of children with ASD.
Patients and Methods: The present study was comprised of 23 children aged from 5 to 11 years, who participated in 15 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Physical activity was identified as moderate or vigorous based on the child’s heart rate. Participants were observed for a period of 2 hours before and after 15 minutes engagement in MVPA and their behaviors were then classified as either stereotypic behavior (SB) or task-engaged behavior (TE). A 2 (gender) x 3 (disorder) repeated measures ANOVA was conducted on pre and post percentage scores to analyze the physical activity effects on children’s stereotypic behaviors.
Results: A significant reduction in stereotypic behaviors of children with ASD was observed for 2 hours, following 15 minutes of MVPA.
Conclusions: This information has implications for researchers and practitioners who consider MVPA participation when designing behavior-changing interventions for children with ASD.