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Dev Neurorehabil. 2011;14(4):230-41. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2011.575438.

Group swimming and aquatic exercise programme for children with autism spectrum disorders: a pilot study.

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  • 1Research Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs, Franciscan Hospital for Children, Boston, MA, USA.



To evaluate the effectiveness of a 14-week aquatic exercise programme for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Non-randomized control trial.


Twelve children participated in this pilot study with seven participants in the aquatic exercise group and five in the control group. The programme was held twice per week for 40 minutes per session. Swimming skills, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, mobility skills and participant and parent satisfaction were measured before and after the intervention.


No significant between-group changes were found. Within-group improvements for swimming skills were found for the intervention group. Programme attendance was high. Parents and children were very satisfied with the programme activities and instructors.


This pilot programme was feasible and showed potential for improving swimming ability in children with ASD. Exercise intensity was low for some participants, most likely contributing to a lack of significant findings on fitness outcomes.

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