Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Applied Behavior Analysis


Education Studies


Frank Cicero, PhD

Committee Member

Lauren Goodwyn, PhD

Committee Member

Sarabeth Cunningham, MS, MEd


Autism, exercise, physical activity, systematic review


It has been found that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are 1.6 times more likely to be obese compared to neurotypically developing children. Individuals with ASD often struggle with motor skills and experience sensory processing difficulties, which can make it difficult to participate in regular physical activity. Because of this, it is crucial to find exercise methods that are enjoyable, practical and that are tailored to the specific needs of individuals with ASD in order to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. The current systematic review investigated the research literature on interventions used to teach exercise to individuals with ASD and investigated if there is enough research support to consider any interventions as evidence-based practice. 14 studies met the inclusion criteria, and their data were extracted and examined. While results were promising, the overall review indicated a need for more consistent treatments for teaching exercise so that further research in evidence-based practices can be established. Future directions for research were postulated.