While there are many benefits to regular engagement in physical activity, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with intellectual disability (ID) often do not engage in healthy levels of physical activity. Low motivation, poor motor skills, and behavioral challenges combine to make engaging in physical activity challenging. There are a few interventions that have been effective in increasing physical activity levels for adults with ASD and ID including goal setting, self-monitoring, and reinforcement. This study will extend the existing research by looking at the impact of using self-management components to increase physical activity for adults with ASD and ID as well as its feasibility in home settings.
The study will use a RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-managed exercise program on daily step counts, health measures, and perceived quality of life for adults with ASD and ID. Forty adults with ASD and ID will be randomly assigned to a control group (n = 20) or an intervention group (n = 20). Both groups will receive Fitbits, Fitbit training, and participate in pre- and post-assessments. The intervention group will participate in the self-managed exercise program. Feasibility will be assessed using questionnaires and interviews with interventionists and participants. This study will provide valuable data on using a self-managed exercise program as well as insight to the feasibility of using such an intervention in home settings.
Learn more in this conference poster summarizing study findings.
Participants in the intervention group had significantly higher step counts and lost more weight. Feasibility and acceptability were also high. This study provides valuable data on using a supported self-managed exercise program as well as insight into its feasibility in home settings.
Savage, M. N., Tomaszewski, B. T., & Hume, K. A. (2022). Step It Up: Increasing Physical Activity for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability Using Supported Self-Management and Fitbit Technology. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 37(3), 146–157. https://doi.org/10.1177/10883576211073700
Tomaszewski, B., Savage, M. N., & Hume, K. (2022). Examining physical activity and quality of life in adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 26(4), 1075-1088.