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Effects of Physical Exercise on Gross Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Research shows many positive effects from physical exercise. The present study examined the impact of a structured physical exercise program compared to treatment as usual on the gross motor skills of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants included 20 children, from 4 to 7 years old, who were assigned to two groups; an experimental group (n = 10) who received a structured physical exercise program for 60-min sessions, three times a week for eight weeks, and a control group (n = 10) who received conventional physiotherapy. Gross motor skills were assessed with the Abbreviated Development Scale -3 before and after the physical exercise program. The experimental group exhibited significant improvements in gross motor skills compared to the control group. This study suggests that structured physical exercise programs can improve gross motor skills in children with ASD.

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All authors contributed to the study's conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by PRLC, DPMS, HPGC, LCGM, PASV, ERG, CR-C and statistical analysis was performed by CH-M. The first draft of the manuscript was written by PRLC, DPMS, ERG, CR-C, CH-M.

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Correspondence to Piedad Rocío Lerma Castaño.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors state that they do not present any conflict of interest. The intervention was applied by the authors Piedad Rocio Lerma Castaño, Diana Paola Montealegre Suárez, and three students/research assistants from the physiotherapy program trained for its application.

Ethics Approval

Approval was obtained from the ethics committee (minute 01 of June 20, 2017) and the research committee (assigned code # 013004035-2017-31) of la Fundación Universitaria María Cano. This approval supports that the procedures used in this study adhere to the postulates of the Helsinki declaration (World Medical Association, 2013). The committee observed the guidelines of resolution 008430 to attribute a "minimal risk" rank, as expressed in article 11 (Minsalud, 1993).


The researchers prepared an informed consent form that included the objectives and risks of the study; it was signed by the parents of the children who agreed to participate.

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Castaño, P.R.L., Suárez, D.P.M., González, E.R. et al. Effects of Physical Exercise on Gross Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord (2023).

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