The Causes To Low Physical Activity Participation Of Children With Autism


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Research paper focusing on the financial and social need to deliver more opportunity of physical activity for children with autism

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The Causes To Low Physical Activity Participation Of Children With Autism

  1. 1. Children with Autism The causes to low physical activity participation of children with autism Alexander Chan
  2. 2. 2 With more and more children diagnosed with autism, the need for more specialists to service them is in obvious demand. Autism spectrum disorder is known as a form of neurodevelopmental disorder, specifically dealing with psychological, sociological, and behavioural issues (Tasman, 2004). Children with autism will experience challenges in areas of communication and social interaction, as well as having restricted interest and have stereotyped repetitive behaviours (Rosser, Sandt & Frey, 2005). These behaviours could include repetitive motor mannerism such as finger flicking and whole body rocking (Tasman, 2004). They may also develop challenging behaviour such as screaming, hitting, and biting, as well creating substantial obstacles for specialists such as adapted physical educators who attempt to correct any changes seen (Crollick, Mancil, & Stropka, 2006). Such characteristics in addition to the lack of the sharing of enjoyment, interests, and enjoyments greatly affects their efficiency in motor learning and increases the difficulty participating in group activities (Tasman, 2004). Many children with autism who experience much difficulty conforming proper motor skills required for a physical activity and the inability to read body language will experience frustration, thus often chooses to disengage and withdrew from the activity with revulsion. From years of research, physical educators began to realize the seriousness of such issue in which these children could be at health risk as a result of physically inactive (Pan & Frey, 2005). Physical educators then began to implement innovative ideas and strategies combined into intervention programs in attempt to examine the significance and effectiveness of programs. One of the primary focuses of these programs is to develop better motor skills and social skills, in specific, visual cues and the ability to identify body language effectively in purpose to decrease stereotypic
  3. 3. 3 behaviour, hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury, and destructiveness (Crollick, Mancil, & Stropka, 2006). By improving these skills, Todd & Reid (2008) suggested that increased in physical activity participation should be evident. Learning a motor skill for a physical activity is problematic for children with autism. The inability to communicate with the environment is one factor that affects them in performance and motor skill learning. Evidence from previous research shows gross motor movements such as walking and fine motor skills such as picking up small objects are affected (Glazebrook et al., 2006; Molloy, Dietrich, & Bhattacharya, 2003). Schmitz, Martineau, Barthlemy, and Assaiante (2003) in their study, acknowledged that children with autism do have difficulty organizing actions towards a goal. Glazebrook et al. (2006) also showed similar results in which they examined how individuals with autism experience motor learning difficulties, and that motor skills and performance are atypical when performing rapid manual aiming movements. Deborah, Cantell, & Crawford (2006) used Bruininks-Osertsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOTMP), although the criteria of BOTMP were not met, to assess the gross and fine motor functioning of children with autism reinforces Glazebrook et al. research finding, showing results indicating motor impairments, as well, deficits in performance of gesture. Jansiewicz, Newschaffer, Landa, Goldberg, Denckla, and Mostofsky (2006) also displayed results concerning boys with autism having greater difficulty in balance, performed at a slower speed, and struggles with complex movements. This continuous of struggle in learning a motor skill and engaging in group activities in children with autism is the nature of the disorder, but it’s not the main cause to low physical activity participation rate. One of the causes is the limited services
  4. 4. 4 society provided failing to adequately ensure these children that their needs are fully taken into account (Connelly, 2008). They are often treated unfairly and are disadvantaged in educational and recreational opportunities in contemporary society (Dyson, 1997; Pan & Frey, 2006). From research findings, the primary cause to these children with minimal physical activity is opportunity (Reid, 2005). Pan & Frey (2006) also acknowledged from Rosser’s doctoral thesis that there are simply not enough appropriate programs, in such, integrated and segregated extracurricular programs for these children are lacking. Lack of social acceptance and support limits their opportunity to access public resources such as community and educational settings that are used for physical activity purposes (Pan & Frey, 2006). Despite the lack of opportunities, however, Rosser & Frey (2005) observed higher physical activity participation rate in children with autism in recess time during school. During this free time, these children have the opportunity to access and play on playground equipments of their choice, and engage in activities that were unstructured and/or that require little social interaction. But time was limited due to early evacuation to prevent traffic with the incoming of sudden influx of students. Reid (2005) then further suggested the need to understand the relationship between the quality uses of recess time and the increased opportunity of physical activity participation rate for these children. Regrettably, recess time usually lasts only for about fifteen minutes, although it could be one possible solution to inactivity, but can act only as a temporary solution. Fifteen minutes has not reached the standards of thirty minutes minimum of vigorous activities established by Public Health Agencies of Canada (PHAC, 2002). Physical activity is just an important element in the life of children and youth regardless of disorders they may have (QUOTE).
  5. 5. 5 Pan and Frey (2006) pointed out the influence and importance of engaging in physical activity such that, it is especially crucial for children with autism when more personal spaces and specialized caring are needed, therefore the delivery of quality instructions given by qualified instructors and the testing of effectiveness of intervention programs are necessary. Sandt (2008) reinforces Pan and Frey that the continuous process of using new strategies and intervention to help these children become physically educated is important. Reid (2005) suggested the use of peer tutors, social stories, and stations to maximize time spent in PE classes, as well, a one-to-one ratio. Sandt (2008) continue on Reid’s social story strategy and developed a three step model which consist of – plan, develop, and implement. Despite the splendid model, if the quality of instructor is and/or not certified as a specialist to service this population, it is still only a theory. This will greatly affects parent’s faith placed on these programs and their reliance of instructors. One suggestion is to develop national certification standards similar to those CPR-C and First Aid, to ensure the quality of instructors servicing children and youth with autism. In specific, instructors do not only imply adapted physical educators, but to all potential instructors such as volunteers, social workers, kinesiologists, health specialists, those willing to take the responsibility of providing such services. To Increase programs for autistic children and youth, intervention program is needed but without qualified and certified instructors, the issue of physical activity programs for children with autism will persist. Some other factors that could limit children with autism from participating physical activity is geographical location, school, and community commitments. Other possible issues could be due to parent’s lack of funding to provide transportation, so
  6. 6. 6 financial assistance is definitely a need. School and/or recreational agencies could setup possible funding specifically for the parents of an autistic child. In Canada specifically, the government is increasing the awareness of autism, allocating more funding for research and recreational agencies focusing on autism spectrum disorders (TSSCSST, 2007). This funding could provide more opportunities to promote future research focusing on measuring quality physical activity on children and youth with ASD Reid suggested (Reid, 2005). Increasing Physical Activity has always been viewed as a primary phenomenon in improving overall health. But many researches have overlooked the influences of physical activity in the special population group. Therefore, it is extremely important for community recreation agencies, schools, and parents to continuously cooperate, identify needs and evaluate options for developing programs that include effective support (Reid, 2005). The purpose of this study was to address the needs of children with autism by identifying several areas where progress of the increase of participation physical activity can be made in improving the intervention programs offered, provide transportations and funding, as well, improve instructor’s qualification. The study also sought explanation as to why children with autism are considered to have low physical activity participation.
  7. 7. 7 References Connolly, M. (2008). The Remarkable Logic of Autism: Developing and Describing an Embedded Curriculum Based in Semiotic Phenomenology. Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 2, 234-256. Crollick, J. L., Mancil, R. G., & Stropka, C. (2006). Physical activity for children with autism spectrum disorder. Teaching elementary physical education, 17(2), 30-34. Dewey, D., Cantell, M., & Crawford, S. G. (2006). Motor and gestural performance in children with autism spectrum disorders, developmental coordination disorder, and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the international neuropsychological society, 13, 246-256. Dyson, A. (1997). Social and educational disadvantage: Reconnecting special needs education. British journal of special education, 24, 152-157. Glazebrook, C. M., Elliott, D., & Lyons, J. (2006). A kinematic analysis of how young adults with and without autism plan and control goal-directed movements. Motor control, 10, 244-264. Jansiewicz, E. M., Newschaffer, C. J., Landa, R., Goldberg, M. C., Denckla, M. B., & Mostofsky, S. H. (2006). Motor signs distinguish children with high functioning autism and asperger’s syndrome from controls. Journal of autism and developmental disorder, 36, 613-621. Molloy, Dietrich, & Bhattacharya, (2003). Postural stability in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders,33(6),643-652. Pan, C. Y., & Frey, G. C. (2005). Identifying physical activity determinants in youth with autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of physical activity and health, 2, 412-422. Pan, C. Y., & Frey, G. C. (2006). Physical activity patterns in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 36(5), 597-606. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2002). Canada’s physical activity guide for children. Retrieved October 22, 2008, from uap/paguide/child_youth/pdf/guide_k_e.pdf Reid, G. (2005). Research application: Understanding physical activity in youths with autism spectrum disorder. Paleastra, 21, 6-7. Rosser Sandt, D. D., & Frey, G. C. (2005). Comparison of physical activity levels between children with and without autistic spectrum disorders. Adapted physical activity quarterly, 22, 146-159. Todd, T., & Reid, G. (2006). Increasing physical activity in individuals with autism. Focus on autism and other developmental disabilities, 21(3), 167. Tasman, A. (2004). Childhood disorders: Pervasive developmental disorders. In first, M. B. (Eds.), DSM-IV-TR mental disorders: Diagnosis, ethnology, and treatment (pp. 129-157). West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. (2007). Final report on: The enquiry on the funding for the treatment of autism. Retrieved October 21, 2008, from e/repfinmar07-e.htm