The effectiveness of a structured exercise intervention for an obese child with autism
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Background: Childhood obesity is rising and interventions for prevention and weight loss are being investigated for the general population. However, there appears to be a gap in the literature regarding children with autism who are at an increased risk of obesity due to their poor motor ability and social skills. Research outlines the benefits regular exercise can have on behaviours in autistic population, but little research is available regarding weight loss interventions for this population. This case study explored the effectiveness of an eight week structured exercise intervention for an obese child with autism looking at weight loss and improvements in behaviour and sleep pattern, as suggested by previous studies. Findings: Results indicated significant improvements in physical aggression resulting in a reduced need to use front ground recovery as a restraint and the calm room throughout the eight week intervention. No significant changes were found for sleep pattern, non compliance and verbal aggression. Weight loss at a steady rate during the intervention phase also occurred. Conclusion: The results suggest that an exercise plan, when tailored to the individual‟s needs and capabilities, is of great benefit to both health and behaviours. The benefits of exercise to health are clear and it is documented that behaviours reduce as a result of increased exercise levels in autistic populations. Further research is required to support this and previous studies to provide solid evidence of the benefits of exercise on behaviours for children with autism, with the aim of exercise being promoted as a successful behaviour intervention. With regards to weight loss, many factors effect the compliance of the participant, however if exercise is enjoyable and within the child‟s capabilities, there is no reason they should not be able to participate in exercise and lose weight.
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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