Choosing an Appropriate Physical Exercise to Reduce Stereotypic Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Non-randomized Crossover Study
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Considerable evidence has shown that physical exercise could be an effective treatment in reducing stereotypical autism spectrum disorder (ASD) behaviors in children. The present study seeks to examine the underlying mechanism by considering the theoretical operant nature of stereotypy. Children with ASD (n = 30) who exhibited hand-flapping and body-rocking stereotypies were asked to participate in both control (story-time) and experimental (ball-tapping-exercise intervention) conditions. The experimental condition comprised 15 min of ball tapping during which the children were asked to tap a plastic ball as many times as they could. Results indicated that hand-flapping stereotypy was significantly reduced but body-rocking stereotypy following the ball-tapping-exercise intervention was not. These results not only confirm the positive impact of exercise intervention on stereotypic behavior as shown in many previous studies, but further suggest that physical exercise should be matched with the biomechanics of stereotypy to produce a desirable behavioral benefit.
KeywordsChildren Autism spectrum disorder Physical exercise Repetitive behavior Stereotypy
This research was supported by Dean’s Research Fund of the Education University of Hong Kong. The authors would like to express their gratitude to all the teachers, parents and children who are involved in this study, and the research assistant and student helpers who helped with data collection and other contributions.
CYAT and CLP conceived of the study, participated in the design of the study and drafted the manuscript. PHL participated in analysis and interpretation, and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This study was funded by Dean's Research Fund, (Grant Number FLASS/DRF/SFRS-4).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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