Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2017

Degree Name

MSEd in Physical Education

Department

Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education

First Advisor

Susan Petersen

Abstract

One in every 68 children in the United States has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), affecting boys more than girls (4:1). Physical activity is important for children with ASD because it promotes life-long fitness and prevents chronic conditions. The purpose of this synthesis was to determine the most effective research-based movement therapy for children with autism, as well as discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each therapy presented. The literature review used peer-reviewed scholarly articles to examine evidencebased research in the areas of music therapy, dance therapy, yoga therapy and aquatic therapy. Results indicated family-centered music therapy (FCMT) improves the quality of social and parent-child interactions and a motivating social environment for preschool aged children. Yoga therapy displays positive effects for treating behavioral difficulties in elementary school children. Aquatic therapy was recommended for secondary children with ASD, due to the reductions in inappropriate behavior and increased on-task behavior. Recommendations for parents and physical educators include implementing activity schedules, performing tasks in sequential order, modifying instruction, modifying equipment and using visual aids. Overall, research indicated that dance therapy, music therapy, yoga therapy and aquatic therapy have advantages and disadvantages in treating children with ASD. Movement therapies can be used successfully for individuals with ASD but not every individual will experience the same benefits.

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