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Leisure Activity Enjoyment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

Enjoyment is a fundamental component of activity participation. This study compared leisure activity enjoyment experienced by typically developing children (TD; n = 64) and those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; n = 67) from age 6 to 13. The TD children enjoyed formal and physical activities significantly more than the children with ASD. Symptom severity was negatively related to enjoyment of overall, formal, physical and social activities. Older children with ASD enjoyed overall, informal, recreational, and self-improvement activities significantly less than younger children, but no differences were seen across TD age groups. Children with ASD enjoyed swimming significantly more than TD children. Understanding patterns of activity enjoyment is useful for being better able to address a child’s motivation to participate in various life activities.

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to Kate Graver, Mary Catherine Crouch, Lyndsay Wente, Andrea Runzi Lang, Mallory Wheeler, Rachel Holmes Kueker, Patti LaVesser, Sarah Dugan, Alysha Munoz, Ben Olch, Kristin Seefeldt, Caitlin Stockelman, Staphanie Zaepfel, Shannon Gaetke, Betty Schaefer, Cathy Crouch, Valerie Harbolivic, Sonia O’Donnell, Lynda Cordry, Tami Morrissey, Deb Dolan, Nancy Vanderweile Milligan, Jackie Kilburn, Lois Ehrhard, Joan Smith, Tina Kreummel, Nancy Buchholz, Lori Thompson, Marla Johnson, Lou Pruitt, and Kathy List for their assistance with this project. A special thanks goes to the families who participated.

Author Contributions

ME performed certain statistical analyses, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted much of the manuscript; CH conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed aspects of the measurement, performed certain statistical analyses, participated in the interpretation of the data, and drafted much of the manuscript; DC participated in determining appropriate statistical analyses, participated in interpretation of the data, and edited the manuscript; AK guided statistical analyses; LC, JQ, RK, JJ and NC performed aspects of the measurement, performed certain statistical analyses, and contributed text to the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Claudia L. Hilton.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 6.

Table 6 Activity categories included in the CAPE (King et al. 2004)

Appendix 2

See Table 7.

Table 7 Formal and informal activity categories included in the CAPE (King et al. 2004)

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Eversole, M., Collins, D.M., Karmarkar, A. et al. Leisure Activity Enjoyment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 10–20 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2529-z

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Activity enjoyment
  • Motivation