Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 3278–3289 | Cite as

Young Children with ASD Participate in the Same Level of Physical Activity as Children Without ASD: Implications for Early Intervention to Maintain Good Health

  • S. Thomas
  • T. Hinkley
  • L. M. Barnett
  • T. May
  • N. RinehartEmail author
Original Paper


Primary-school-aged children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are reported to engage in lower levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) compared to typically developing (TD) children (Jones et al. in PLoS ONE, 12(2):1–23, 2017). Levels of MVPA in young children with ASD remain unclear. This study aimed to investigate MVPA in 4-to-7-year-old children with (n = 37) and without (n = 40) ASD, to determine if MVPA is related to ASD diagnosis; and examine correlates to better inform interventions. Results indicated children with ASD engage in the same levels of MVPA as TD children. Future studies need to further explore MVPA in children with ASD over time to uncover when the divergence in MVPA levels occur and what factors may be associated.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Physical activity (PA) Participation Sleep disorders Moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) 



The authors thank all families and pediatricians for taking part in the study and Rotary Health for their continued support.


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: S.T. is funded by a Rotary Health Illawarra Sunrise scholarship. T.H. was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship (APP1070571). This study was funded by Deakin University’s Faculty of Health. N.R received funding from the Moose Foundation and the Australian Football League to conduct research in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders and inclusion. Nicole Rinehart also received funding from the Ferrero Group Australia as part of its Kinder + Sport pillar of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to promote active lifestyles among young people.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Thomas
    • 1
  • T. Hinkley
    • 2
  • L. M. Barnett
    • 3
  • T. May
    • 1
  • N. Rinehart
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Deakin Child Study Centre, School of Psychology, Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition SciencesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  3. 3.Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  4. 4.Deakin Child Study Centre, School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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