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Motor Performance in School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Effects of an Extracurricular Physical Education program and socio-ecological correlates


A high rate of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have impaired psychomotor development. To date, these children have had few opportunities to participate in extracurricular Physical Education programs. However, nowadays a number of intervention programs are arising with the aim of improving their motor performance. The objectives of this study were (1) to analyze the effects on motor performance of an extracurricular Physical Education program implemented in children with ASD, and (2) to examine whether certain sociodemographic variables and learning-related difficulties are associated with motor performance. a quasi-experimental design was used with 31 participants (experimental group: n = 17; 13 boys, 4 girls) (control group: n = 14; 12 boys, 2 girls) with ASD between 4 and 16 years old. On the one hand, the level of motor performance was evaluated with the Movement Evaluation Battery for Children-2nd edition (MABC-2). On the other hand, the parents provided sociodemographic information about the participants through a questionnaire. after carrying out the intervention program, the experimental group obtained statistically significant better results in the variables of manual dexterity and balance. Furthermore, the correlation analysis of sociodemographic variables and learning-related difficulties suggests that age, type of diagnosis, need for educational support, and traits such as impulsivity and hyperactivity are factors related to the motor domain of the population with ASD. The findings highlight significant improvements, showing the need to address these difficulties to stimulate and encourage the development of children with ASD from an early age.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author O, C-B. The data are not publicly available due to ethical restrictions (they contain information that could compromise the privacy of research participants).


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The authors would like to thank the UJI-A2017-03 funding project, professional services for manuscript revision and editing assistance, and especially all the participants involved in the study.

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Correspondence to Oscar Chiva-Bartoll.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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All the parents or legal guardians of the participants were informed about the purpose of the study.

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Salvador-Garcia, C., Chiva-Bartoll, O., Belaire-Meliá, A. et al. Motor Performance in School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Effects of an Extracurricular Physical Education program and socio-ecological correlates. J Dev Phys Disabil 34, 355–372 (2022).

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  • ASD
  • MABC-2
  • Motor performance
  • Motor development