Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have increased levels of stress, leading to dysregulated production of cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol have numerous known adverse health consequences, and therefore, interventions should be established to help attenuate cortisol production. As judo combines physical activity and mindfulness practice, it may aid in stress reduction and decreased levels of cortisol. Purpose: To examine the effects of a 10-week judo program on stress reactions and salivary cortisol levels in youth with ASD. Methods: 20 children with ASD participated in the 10-week judo program. Changes in acute (before and after one judo session) and chronic salivary cortisol levels were assessed at baseline and post intervention. Parents of participants were asked to complete the Stress Survey Schedule (SSS) to determine severity of stress reactions. The SSS consists of 10 subscales: changes, anticipation, unpleasant, positives, food related, rituals, social/environmental, sensory/personal, fears, and life stressors. Sleep quality was assessed via Actigraph GT9X accelerometers over a 7-day period at baseline and post-intervention. Paired samples t-tests were used to determine differences SSS pre/post-intervention. Repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to determine differences and in cortisol levels before and after one judo session and pre and post-intervention. Spearman correlations were used to determine correlations between sleep quality and subscales of the SSS. Results: Although not statistically significant, a trend was noted indicating a decrease in cortisol levels following one judo session (p=.057). Nonsignificant reductions in the subscales "changes (p=.14)" and "unpleasant (p=.12)" of the SSS were also observed. Conclusion: Acute changes in cortisol levels may be seen following one session of judo. Subscales of parent-reported questionnaire may also show improvements following 10 weeks of participation in a judo program.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Health Professions and Sciences
School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy
Sport and Exercise Science
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Renziehausen, Justine, "The Effects of a 10-week Judo Program on Cortisol and Stress in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6358.