Physical Activity Levels, Barriers, and Facilitators Encountered In Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder
While physical activity is beneficial to adolescent health and development, only 25% of adolescents met the physical activity recommendations of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Research has shown adolescents with developmental disabilities, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), are at a higher risk of being physically inactive. It has been reported that adolescents with ASD participated in 30% less physical activity weekly than typically developing (TD) adolescents. Further, this group may face more and/or different types of physical activity barriers than TD adolescents. Currently, there is limited research comparing the physical activity barriers and facilitators seen in adolescents with and without ASD. Therefore, this study aims at determine the physical activity levels, barriers, and facilitators of adolescents with and without ASD. Methods: Seven adolescents (15.4 ± 1.4 years of age) participated in the study; three were TD and four were diagnosed with ASD. Height and weight were measured and then the adolescents wore an ActiGraph accelerometer for one week to assess their physical activity levels. Time spent in moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) was determined using established cut-points. The adolescents also completed the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System physical activity questions. To measure physical activity barriers and facilitators the adolescents completed the PACE adolescent survey. The PACE survey divided questions into the following subscales: personal, social, environmental, beliefs, and self-efficacy factors. Results: Only one of the seven participants met the recommendations for MVPA according to the accelerometers. Both TD and ASD adolescents spent most of their time in sedentary and light physical activity and more time in moderate than vigorous physical activity. Both groups of adolescents reported minimum amounts of physical activity barriers and the main category of barriers reported was classified as personal. A medium effect size (.54) was observed when comparing sedentary activity counts between the two groups. Large effect sizes were observed when examining moderate and vigorous physical activity minutes (1.1 and .98, respectively), meaning there was a large difference in time spent in the different intensities between the two groups of adolescents. In terms of barriers, more personal barriers were observed in TD adolescents (1.1) according to effect size analysis. Large effects were also seen in the benefits subscale (1.76), where TD adolescent saw more benefits to physical activity than the ASD adolescents. Conclusion: Many adolescents in this study failed to meet physical activity guidelines. While the TD adolescents reported more personal barriers, they also had a better understanding of the benefits physical activity gives them compared to ASD adolescents. Both groups accumulated copious amounts of light physical activity; so, one approach should be to shift the physical activity levels from light to moderate intensity. Further, helping ASD adolescents have a better understanding of how being physically active might benefit them could be another strategy to increase time spent in MVPA.
Leahy, Nicholas. (July 2018). Physical Activity Levels, Barriers, and Facilitators Encountered In Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/6973.)
Leahy, Nicholas. Physical Activity Levels, Barriers, and Facilitators Encountered In Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, July 2018. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/6973. May 14, 2021.
Leahy, Nicholas, “Physical Activity Levels, Barriers, and Facilitators Encountered In Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, July 2018).
Leahy, Nicholas. Physical Activity Levels, Barriers, and Facilitators Encountered In Adolescents with and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; July 2018.
East Carolina University