The effect of physical activity interventions on youth with autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analysis.

Autism Res. 2018 Apr 25;:

Authors: Healy S, Nacario A, Braithwaite RE, Hopper C

Abstract
The purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine the effect of physical activity interventions on youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Standard meta-analytical procedures determining inclusion criteria, literature searches in electronic databases, coding procedures, and statistical methods were used to identify and synthesize articles retained for analysis. Hedge’s g (1988) was utilized to interpret effect sizes and quantify research findings. Moderator and outcome variables were assessed using coding procedures. A total of 29 studies with 30 independent samples (N = 1009) were utilized in this analysis. Results from meta-analyses indicated an overall moderate effect (g = 0.62). Several outcomes indicated moderate-to-large effects (g ≥ 0.5); specifically, moderate to large positive effects were revealed for participants exposed to interventions targeting the development of manipulative skills, locomotor skills, skill-related fitness, social functioning, and muscular strength and endurance. Moderator analyses were conducted to explain variance between groups; environment was the only subgrouping variable (intervention characteristics) to produce a significant difference (QB  = 5.67, P < 0.05) between moderators. While no significant differences were found between other moderators, several trends were apparent within groups in which experimental groups outperformed control groups. Autism Res 2018, 0: 000-000. © 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
LAY SUMMARY: Results of the meta-analysis-a method for synthesizing research-showed physical activity interventions to have a moderate or large effect on a variety of outcomes, including for the development of manipulative skills, locomotor skills, skill-related fitness, social functioning, and muscular strength and endurance. The authors conclude that physical activity’s standing as an evidence-based strategy for youth with ASD is reinforced.

PMID: 29693781 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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