Assessing Physical Activity Patterns of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder During Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy: A Pilot Study


  • Josiah Johnson


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to be less physically active and are provided less opportunities to be physically active than their typically developing peers. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a common form of treatment for children with ASD. ABA uses both structured and unstructured play activities during therapy sessions. Free play and structured play during ABA therapy can help children with ASD accumulate recommended daily physical activity. Twelve children ages 3 to 6 with ASD who were receiving ABA therapy at a university-based clinic were recruited to participate in the study. Participants wore an Actigraph xGT3X-BT activity monitor during eight different 90-minute ABA therapy sessions. Cut points for exercise intensity were established using the Butte Vector Magnitude preschool formula. Participants accumulated an average of 45 minutes of physical activity during their ABA therapy sessions and approximately 15 minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity. Accelerometers are a practical way to monitor physical activity during ABA sessions and Children with ASD can accumulate approximately 25% of recommended physical activity during 90 minute ABA therapy sessions.





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