In comparison to normally developing children, many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) do not possess the same opportunities to be physically active due to the impairments exhibited by their disorder. A systematic review using the Downs and Black checklist and the PEDro scale was conducted to assess the methodological quality of the literature on promoting physical activity in children with ASD. The following inclusion criteria had to be met: (1) subjects must include children with a clinical ASD diagnosis (2) the children have to be under the age of thirteen years old (3) the interventions must target physical activity; lastly, (4) they must be a relevant peer-reviewed English language study. The search was conducted using four electronic databases: MEDLINE, ERIC, PsycInfo, and CINHL with no restriction on the publication year. The following keywords were utilized: "Autism", "ASD/ Autism Spectrum Disorder", "Asperger", "Pervasive Developmental Disorder" Those terms were paired with "physical activity", "physical exercise", "exercise", "fitness", "aerobic", "swim", "aquatic", "jog", "walk", "recreational activity" Which were also paired with the terms "school age", "child", "toddler", "preadolescent". This multi-step search procedure occurred during February 2013. The methodological quality of six studies was evaluated in February 2013. Overall, the conclusive scores determined by the Downs and and Black checklist and the PEDro scale varied greatly. The scores reported by the Downs and Black checklist ranged from 19 to 21 on a 27-point scale. PEDro scale yielded scores ranging between two and six on a 10-point scale. A vote count revealed that the exercise interventions increased the physical fitness, aquatic skills, social behaviors, and sensory integration children with ASD. In summary, the variation within the scores and the quality of the studies leads to a demand for future research.; In order to adequately determine what exercise interventions effectively increase physical activity in children with ASD, future researchers should conduct randomized controlled trials in order to produce the highest quality of evidence.


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Thesis Completion





Tucker, Jennifer


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Health Professions


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs;Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis