Influence of High and Low Autonomy-Supportive Climates on Physical Activity in Children with and without Developmental Disability

  • Jerraco L. Johnson
  • Benjamin Miedema
  • Brooke Converse
  • Doris Hill
  • Alice M. Buchanan
  • Claire Bridges
  • J. Megan Irwin
  • Mary E. Rudisill
  • Melissa Pangelinan


The aim of this study was to compare the influence of two different instructional climates on the accumulation of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during a fully-inclusive adapted recreational physical activity program. A total of 32 children (18 typically-developing (TD), and 14 with developmental disabilities (DD) ranging in ages from 5 to 9 years, participated in six, 60-min adapted recreational sessions. Of those six sessions, three incorporated an autonomy-supportive climate (high autonomy), and three incorporated direct instruction (low autonomy). MVPA was measured using accelerometers. A repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to determine significant differences in MVPA between group (TD/DD), climate (autonomy/direct), and a group x climate interaction. Significant group and climate main effects were observed (p = 0.002 and 0.014, respectively). However, there was not a significant group x climate interaction (p = 0.313). These results suggest that although the group of children with disabilities spent less time in MVPA compared to their typically-developing peers, all participants spent more time in MVPA for the autonomy-supportive climate compared to the low-autonomous climate. This study is the first to quantitatively assess the efficacy of a fully-inclusive autonomy-supportive climate on physical activity levels in children with and without developmental disabilities.


Actigraph Adapted recreation Healthy Children Inclusion Instructional Climate 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with 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

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerraco L. Johnson
    • 1
  • Benjamin Miedema
    • 1
  • Brooke Converse
    • 1
  • Doris Hill
    • 1
  • Alice M. Buchanan
    • 1
  • Claire Bridges
    • 1
  • J. Megan Irwin
    • 2
  • Mary E. Rudisill
    • 1
  • Melissa Pangelinan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of KinesiologyAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physical EducationUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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