A Summer Intervention Targeting the Acquisition of Fundamental Movement Skills Among Children with ASD

Friday, May 13, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
K. Staples, A. Bellerive, K. Collins and S. Lautenslager, University of Regina, Regina, SK, Canada
Background:  Having the confidence and competence to perform fundamental movement skills plays a critical role in development, providing the foundation for participation in physical activity and sport. Many children with ASD have difficulty performing the fundamental movement skills needed to participate successfully in what are often group-based activities. These movement skill difficulties become more obvious with increasing age and more children with ASD are left on the sidelines. During the summer months, opportunities to practice and improve these skills are further constrained because children with ASD are not receiving regular physical education.

Objectives:  Over the summer months, Sports Camps are offered on many university campuses, yet very few have the structure and support for children with ASD to participate successfully. The purpose of this research was to examine the effectiveness of an intervention for children with ASD that followed the format of a summer Sports Camp. Following best practice guidelines (Smith et al., 2007), the intervention was based on 4 hours of instruction per day for a total of 20 hours per week; athletes participated in at least 4 of the 8 weeks of instruction. The delivery of the intervention was based on the 8 key components of pivotal response teaching (PRT) that are grouped into antecedent and consequence strategies. The coaches were undergraduate students in kinesiology who were trained to deliver quality instruction using PRT strategies to their teams of 1 to 3 children.

Methods:  10 children (7 boys, 3 girls) with ASD (7 to 10 years; FSIQ = 45 to 117) participated in the intervention targeting the acquisition of fundamental movement skills. The curriculum was based on the 13 skills included in the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD-3) a criterion referenced assessment that examines the performance of both locomotor and object control skills. Multiple performance criteria allow children to receive credit for any aspect of the movement they are able to perform and scoring is based on 46 and 54 possible performance criteria for the locomotor and object control subtests, respectively. The effectiveness of the intervention was determined by examining the change in the number of criteria met during the performance of the locomotor and object control subtests before and after participation.

Results:  Following 4 to 8 weeks of participation in the intervention, children with ASD improved their performance on the locomotor subtest from a mean score of 17.2 to 27.10 (p = .008) and on the object control subtest from 20.9 to 31.3 (p = .001). These improvements reflect an increase of 24% and 22% in the number of performance criteria met for locomotor and object control skills.

Conclusions:   This research demonstrates the effectiveness of PRT strategies in the acquisition of movement skill for children with ASD. The mastery of fundamental movement skills is integral to promoting active participation among children with ASD and the summer months are an opportune time when intensive instruction can occur.