School Psychology Review
Effect of Physical Activity on Academic Engagement and Executive Functioning in Children With ASD
Sarah N. Nakutin & Gabriel Gutierrez
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Abstract. Numerous interventions have been identified as evidence-based practices for educating students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Physical activity (PA) has recently been recognized as an evidence-based practice to decrease maladaptive behaviors and increase desired behaviors. Exercise has been found to increase academic engagement in students with ASD; however, little research has been completed on the effectiveness of physical exercise as a school-based intervention. PA has also been found to be an effective intervention to increase executive functioning (EF) in students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, little research has been completed on the effects of PA on EF in students with ASD. A multiple-baseline design was used to examine the effects of PA on academic engaged time and EF. Three students participated in a jogging intervention, were observed in the classroom, and completed EF measures. Results suggested large effect sizes for academic engagement for all three students. Although no significant effects were found on EF, results indicated PA may be an effective and feasible intervention to support academic achievement for students with ASD in schools.