Previous studies found that children with ASD tend to participate in lower amounts of physical activity (PA), accumulate greater hours of screen time (ST), and have poorer sleep quality (SQ), compared to typically developing (TD) youth. Unfortunately, these poor health behaviors put youth with ASD at a high risk for developing obesity, as well as other obesity-related conditions (e.g. Type 2 diabetes). In order to reduce this risk, it is critical to understand the factors that affect activity levels and sleep in youth with ASD. Several studies have demonstrated that parents may have a large influence on social behaviors in youth with ASD, however, no studies have focused on the association between parent and child health behaviors in youth with ASD. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to examine the association between parent and child PA, sedentary behavior (SB), ST, and SQ in youth with ASD. Data was collected from 15 child (ages of 6-17) and parent pairs, recruited from a private school in Central Orlando. Daily minutes of PA, SB, and SQ were measured using an Actigraph accelerometer, that both children and parents wore on their wrist over a 7-day period. Parents and children also completed surveys that inquired about both their PA and ST levels during weekdays and weekend. Pearson correlations found significant positive associations between objective parent and child PA and both self-reported weekend PA and ST. This is the first study to examine associations between parent and child health behaviors in youth with ASD, finding positive correlations between PA and ST during the weekend. These findings suggest that there is a relationship between parent and child activity levels in youth with ASD. It is critical for future work to examine the causal factors of this relationship between parent and child activity levels in youth ASD populations. Such results may support the inclusion of parents to develop more effective interventions to target health behaviors in youth with ASD.
Garcia, Jeanette M.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Health Professions and Sciences
Arnold, Elise M., "The Relationship Between Parent and Child Health Behaviors in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 859.