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Phys Ther. 2014 Jun;94(6):875-89. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20130157. Epub 2014 Feb 13.

Current perspectives on physical activity and exercise recommendations for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.

Author information

  • 1S.M. Srinivasan, MSPT, Physical Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, Neag School of Education, and Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
  • 2L.S. Pescatello, PhD, FACSM, FAHA, Department of Kinesiology, Neag School of Education, and Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut.
  • 3A.N. Bhat, PT, PhD, Physical Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, Neag School of Education, Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention, Department of Psychology, and Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut. Mailing address: Physical Therapy Program, University of Connecticut-Storrs Campus, 358 Mansfield Rd, U1101, Storrs, CT 06269 (USA). anjana.bhat@uconn.edu.

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that childhood obesity is increasing in children who are developing typically as well as in children with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Impairments specific to autism as well as general environmental factors could lead to an imbalance between the intake and expenditure of energy, leading to obesity. In this article, we describe the mechanisms by which autism-specific impairments contribute to obesity. The evidence on exercise interventions to improve physical fitness, address obesity, and reduce autism-specific impairments in children and adolescents with ASDs is discussed. Limited evidence is currently available for exercise interventions in individuals with ASDs. Therefore, literature on other pediatric developmental disabilities and children who are developing typically was reviewed to provide recommendations for clinicians to assess physical activity levels, to promote physical fitness, and to reduce obesity in children and adolescents with ASDs. There is a clear need for further systematic research to develop sensitive assessment tools and holistic multisystem and multifactorial obesity interventions that accommodate the social communication, motor, and behavioral impairments of individuals with ASDs.

© 2014 American Physical Therapy Association.

PMID:
24525861
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC4040426
Free PMC Article
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