Journal of
Physical Education and Sport Management

  • Abbreviation: J. Phys. Educ. Sport Manag.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6486
  • DOI: 10.5897/JPESM
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 82

Full Length Research Paper

Children with autism spectrum disorder and physical activity: A descriptive synthesis

Seo H. Lee*
  • Seo H. Lee*
  • Department of Kinesiology, Texas Woman’s University, USA.
  • Google Scholar
Samuel R. Hodge
  • Samuel R. Hodge
  • Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, USA.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 25 November 2016
  •  Accepted: 10 January 2017
  •  Published: 31 January 2017


The purpose of this literature review was to describe research on strategies used in engaging children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in physical activity. Keyword searches were used to identify articles from selected electronic databases over a 25-year period from 1990 through 2015. Thirty-five articles met all inclusion criteria. These studies were retrieved, reviewed, coded, analyzed thematically, and summarized. Five thematic categories emerged, which were: (a) comparison of physical activity (PA) levels between children with ASD and their typically functioning peers, (b) physical activity patterns of children with ASD, (c) barriers that impede children participation in physical activities, (d) benefits of participating in physical activities, and (e) strategies for engaging children with ASD in physical activities. Effective teaching strategies and the benefits of participating in physical activities for children with ASD are addressed in this review.

Key words: Autism spectrum disorder, physical activity, physical education, exercise.