A Case Report Illustrating the Implementation of a Therapeutic Surfing Intervention for an Adolescent with Autism


  • Emily D. Clapham University of Rhode Island
  • Linda S. Lamont University of Rhode Island
  • Minsuk Shim University of Rhode Island
  • Cortney Armitano Old Dominion University


surf therapy, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), therapeutic recreation, sensory processing disorder (SPD), pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), high-functioning autism (HFA), Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFT)


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a decreased physical fitness level when compared with their able-bodied peers. It is therefore important that new adapted exercise programs become available for children with ASD. Although adapted surfing has begun to gain popularity around the world; there is limited research on the physiological benefits for children with autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an 8-week summer surf program conducted each year for six years as therapeutic recreation. We evaluated physiological and behavioral variables such as aerobic capacity, muscle strength and endurance, range of motion and personal behavior. Although there are many factors that may account for the improvements that we document in this report, this participant demonstrated improvements after each year of the surfing program. This research is the first of its kind to illustrate the effectiveness of surfing as a rehabilitative intervention in a child diagnosed with ASD. 

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