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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2010 Jul;54(7):611-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2010.01289.x. Epub 2010 May 25.

Effects of a leisure programme on quality of life and stress of individuals with ASD.

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  • 1Department of Personality and Clinical Psychology, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain. villamis@edu.ucm.es

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Even though there is research demonstrating a positive relationship between leisure participation and the two constructs of quality of life and stress reduction, current conceptualisation of leisure as a contributor to quality of life is limited. In addition, in spite of improvements in accurate diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at increasingly earlier ages and proliferation of interventions, research associated with leisure and quality of life for people with ASD is lacking.

METHODS:

Therefore, a study using a repeated measures design was used to measure effects of a 1-year group leisure programme intended to facilitate interaction with media, engagement in exercise, playing games and doing crafts, attending events, and participating in other recreation activities on quality of life and stress of 37 participants (22 male, 15 female), ages 17-39 (M = 31.49) years at the beginning of the programme) diagnosed with an ASD and a group of 34 adults with ASD as control group (waiting list) (19 male, 15 female), ages 24-38 (M = 30 at programme initiation) years.

RESULTS:

There was a significant decrease in overall scores of stress levels for participants over the course of the study and there was a significant increase in the four factors of quality of life that were measured (satisfaction, independence, competence and social interaction) as well as the total score for quality of life from baseline to the end of the intervention 12 months later. In contrast, the control group demonstrated no significant improvements related to stress or quality of life. Implications of these findings to leisure services and the quality of life of individuals with ASD are discussed.

CONCLUSION:

Findings support the contention that participation in recreation activities positively influenced the stress and quality of life of adults with ASD.

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