The Use of a Multicomponent Behavioral Intervention to Promote Physical Activity in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders across Inclusive Community Settings


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are generally less physically active than individuals without disability due to factors such as lack of motor coordination and inadequate transportation resources that can result in various barriers to participation. This affects their independence and may interfere with expectations (e.g., employment) during adulthood. It is essential to explore ways to teach physical activity so people with ASD can generalize skills in community settings. This study examined the effect of a multicomponent behavioral intervention that included (a) the Exercise Buddy application, (b) a system of least prompts, (c) an incremental increase of criteria, and (d) reinforcement to teach three adolescents with ASD functional movement exercises (e.g., squat). All participants increased their mastery of performing these exercises compared to baseline and generalized these skills across two community settings.

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This study was funded by Ball State University’s Aspire Start-Up grant.

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Correspondence to Laura Bassette.

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The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

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.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Laura Bassette, Department of Special Education, Ball State University; Jessica Kulwicki, Department of Educational Psychology, Ball State University; Shannon Titus Dieringer, Department of Special Education, Ball State University; Kimberly A. Zoder-Martell, Department of Special Education, Ball State University; Ryan Heneisen, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Ball State University

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Bassette, L., Kulwicki, J., Dieringer, S.T. et al. The Use of a Multicomponent Behavioral Intervention to Promote Physical Activity in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders across Inclusive Community Settings. Behav Analysis Practice 11, 358–369 (2018).

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  • Young adults with autism spectrum disorder
  • Physical activity
  • Technology
  • Inclusive community fitness