Physical Activity Among Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Friday, May 15, 2015: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Imperial Ballroom (Grand America Hotel)
K. Staples, University of Regina, Regina, SK, Canada
Background: In Canada, nearly 1 in 3 children and youth between the ages of 5 and 17 years are overweight or obese.  Children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are at an even greater risk for obesity and have an increased prevalence of obesity-related health conditions than their typically developing peers. Physical inactivity is a significant lifestyle factor that is contributing to the increased prevalence of obesity.  Approximately 7% of Canadian children and youth participate in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous- intensity physical activity (MVPA) on at least 6 days a week.  It is suggested that children with ASD (Bandini et al., 2013; Rosser Sandt & Frey, 2005) and Down syndrome (Esposito et al., 2012) spend significantly less time engaged in MVPA than their typically developing peers.

Objectives: To understand physical activity participation among 17 children (10 boys, 7 girls) with IDD, ages 7 to 12 years.  Children included in this research had formal diagnoses of ASD (n = 12), Down syndrome (n = 2), fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (n = 1), and global developmental delay (n = 1); all had some degree of intellectual impairment.  Time spent engaged in MVPA and the number and type of activities were examined.

Methods:  Physical activity was measured over a 7-day period using Actigraph GT3X accelerometers.  Time spent in MVPA (minutes) was measured.  To be considered in the analyses, the accelerometer was worn for a minimum of 10 hours for a minimum of 4 days (3 weekday and 1 weekend) during the week.  All monitoring periods were during the school year.  The Children’s Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment (CAPE) was used to examine participation outside of school activities.  

Results: A total of 85 days met the minimum wear time to be included in the analyses.  On average, children with IDD spent 27.8 minutes per day engaged in MVPA (6 to 86 minutes) and only 1 child consistently achieved the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA.  Two other boys achieved 60 minutes of MVPA on a single day during the monitoring period.  Although not significantly different, boys (31.8 ± 22.7 minutes) participated in more MVPA than girls (22.1 ± 13.2 minutes).  Looking specifically at the physical activity category of the CAPE, children with IDD participated in an average of 3 out of 13 different activities, with participation ranging from 0 to 7 activities.  Although not statistically significant, younger children aged 7 to 9 years (4 ± 2 activities) participated in a greater number of activities than older children aged 10 to 12 years (2 ± 1.7 activities).  In the physical activity category, boys and girls performed a similar number of activities.

Conclusions: In order to improve PA participation among children with IDD, it is important to understand their current levels of PA within the narrow range of activities they currently participate in.  This understanding will facilitate the provision of services, programs, and supports to improve participation among children with IDD.