Autism spectrum disorder and physical activity


  • Fiorenzo Moscatelli University of Foggia, Italy
  • Rita Polito University of Foggia, Italy
  • Alberto Ametta University of Foggia, Italy
  • Marcellino Monda University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy
  • Antonietta Messina University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy
  • Francesco Sessa University of Foggia, Italy
  • Aurora Daniele University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy
  • Anna Valenzano University of Foggia, Italy
  • Giuseppe Cibelli University of Foggia, Italy
  • Vincenzo Monda Università degli studi della Campania, Luigi Vanvitelli, Italy


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Physical activity, Exercise intervention, Coaching in ASD, Therapeutic physical exercise


Autism is a common developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with speech and behaviours, such as lack of social abilities and repetitive behaviours. Some studies have shown that after the intervention of physical activity, all of the social interaction ability, communication ability, stereotyped behaviour and sports skills of children and adolescents with autism have been improved, which can reduce the degree of autism. The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased dramatically and is currently estimated at 1 in 68 children. ASD is defined by two symptom dimensions including social impairments and circumscribed and repetitive behaviours and interests (American Psychiatric Association). One subgroup that has increased is those with ASD without intellectual disability who currently comprise 68% of those diagnosed. Current guidelines recommend that youth engage in ≥ 60 minutes of Physical Activity daily, with the majority being moderate-to-vigorous, and muscle strengthening activities ≥ 3 days per week. Despite the significant need, few exercise programs have been developed or adapted for children with ASD, and there is a lack of evidence-based exercise treatments. Recommendations for improving exercise intervention studies in ASD include testing of treatments in function-ally-homogeneous (narrower) subgroups with ASD using larger well-characterized samples. This is necessary as children with ASD have different tolerances for activities/tasks and functional heterogeneity will likely lead to variable treatment responsiveness. Additionally, group-based treatments will be more applicable for children with ASD without intellectual disability.


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How to Cite

Moscatelli, F., Polito, R., Ametta, A., Monda, M., Messina, A., Sessa, F., Daniele, A., Valenzano, A., Cibelli, G., & Monda, V. (2020). Autism spectrum disorder and physical activity. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 15(3proc), S787-S792. Retrieved from

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