Changes in Adaptive Behaviour in 3-5-Year-Old Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Following a Motor Skill Intervention: Preliminary Results

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 2, 2019: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
A. T. Ibbitson1, T. Runge1 and M. Lloyd2, (1)Faculty of Health Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada, (2)Kinesiology, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada
Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience significant challenges in socialization and communication in addition to repetitive and restricted behaviors. In addition to these core characteristics, delays in the development of fundamental motor skills (FMS) are often observed from a young age. These challenges can lead to reduced opportunities to engage in active play which is an important venue for the development of social and behavioral skills. Adaptive behavior refers to an individual’s typical performance of the day-to-day activities required for social and personal sufficiency. Active play is considered to be the occupation of children and if children with ASD have limited ability to engage in active play due to their motor skills this might have an impact on adaptive behaviour as well.

Objectives: To determine the impact of a 12-week motor skill intervention in 3-5-year-old children with ASD on FMS and adaptive behavior.

Methods: 14 children with ASD (11 male, 3 female, Mean age = 3.51 ± .52) were recruited for a 12 week, 2 hours/week, wait-list controlled fundamental motor skill intervention. Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 7, Mean age = 3.74 ± 0.69) or control group (n = 7, Mean age = 3.38 ± 0.13). The Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2) was used to measure motor skills before and after the intervention and determine the Gross Motor Quotient (GMQ). The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (2nd ed.) was used to score overall adaptive functioning. The Adaptive Behavior Composite (ABC) is a composite score that summarizes the individual’s performance across four domains related to adaptive functioning: Communication, Daily Living Skills, Socialization and Motor Skills.

Results: There were no significant differences between the groups at the pre-test. Group 1: the ABC standard score (mean = 71.86 ± 8.26), GMQ (mean = 81.57 ± 19.09) and Group 2: ABC Standard Score (mean = 80 ± 11.11), GMQ (mean = 77.29 ± 12.59) at the pre-test. After the 12-week intervention, scores for post-test in Group 1: ABC (mean = 79.29 ± 12.02), GMQ (mean = 91.86 ± 20.91), and Group 2: ABC (mean = 75.29 ± 8.34) and GMQ (mean = 87.57 ± 14.33). There was a significant effect for the group by time interaction (p= 0.003) for the ABC but no significant effect for time. For the GMQ, there was a significant effect for time (p = 0.002) but the group by time interaction was not significant.

Conclusions: These preliminary results indicate that a fundamental motor skill intervention may have a positive impact on adaptive behaviour in 3-5-year-old children with ASD. This intervention was an age appropriate, skill-based intervention focusing on the skills needed for active play. Overall, the results are promising and indicate the need for further research in this area.