Brief Report: The Utility of a Golf Training Program for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impairments in communication, social interactions, as well as motor functioning. Additionally, individuals with ASD are at a greater risk for health concerns due in part to a more sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, it may be advantageous to introduce more physical activity or sport-based training into autism therapeutic programs. Here, we introduce and evaluate a 6-week, 12 session golf-training program that integrates the teaching of autism-relevant social and communicative skills into each lesson. The results showed that all 46 participants (M = 11.46, SD = 6.21) improved on at least one outcome measure, and statistically significant increases in all measures (communication skills, social skills, motor skills, and regulatory skills) were detected from pre to post. These preliminary findings highlight the utility of an autism-targeted golf training program for all ages; future studies should seek to replicate this strategy in other settings and using other sports or recreational activities.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Treatment of autism Sport interventions and autism Physical activity training Motor functioning in ASD
We are thankful to all the great families and inspiring individuals who participated in the program and this study. We would like to give special thanks to the wonderful staff at the Els For Autism Foundation, including Ernie and Liezl Els, Erin Brooker Lozott and Dr. Christine Honsberger. We are also grateful to the golf instructors who took part in learning and providing the training to the participants. NAS observed the program, analyzed the data, and wrote the final manuscript. MS contributed to the writing of the final manuscript, the creation of the assessments, and assisted with the development of the program. JH had an integral role in developing the program and assisted in training the different coaches and raters. No changes have occurred in the author’s affiliations subsequent to the time of the study. All authors (NAS, MS, and JH) have reviewed and approved the submission.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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