Individuals with disabilities are at increased risk for both obesity (Melville, et al., 2008) and low levels of fitness (Ellis, Cress, & Spellman, 1992; Gillespie, 2003), possibly because of a lack of opportunity to participate in physical activity. However, research has found that there are several positive outcomes in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) following physical activity interventions (Yılmaz, Birkan, Konukman, & Erkan, 2005). Health-related benefits include an increase in general health status (Warburton, Nicol, & Bredin, 2006), improved cardiovascular health (Morris & Froelicher, 1993), an increase in psychological benefits (Biddle, Fox, & Boutcher, 2000), and improved muscular strength and endurance (Pollock, et al., 2000). In addition to the health-related outcomes, engagement in a physical activity program provides participants an immediate opportunity to engage in a rich social context with others.
With this knowledge of the numerous benefits of physical activity interventions, Dr. Naguib in conjunction with students from the University of Michigan (UofM) School of Kinesiology created “Spectrum of Sports,” a physical activity program for adolescents diagnosed with ASD. This program incorporates behavioral and adaptive physical activity principles to help adolescents experience success while engaging in a number of age appropriate group sports with peers and volunteer undergraduate students from UofM’s school of Kinesiology.
The weekly program focuses on the fundamentals of several different team sports, through a variety of activities and games common in physical education settings and after school programs for adolescents. Participants receive individualized feedback from Sunfield Center staff as well as from student volunteers. Along with developing and practicing specific skills necessary to engage in various sports, members also learn appropriate social skills via modeling and guided practice.
The “Spectrum of Sports” group this summer will begin on June 4th and will run through July 30th, 2013. The group will meet on Tuesdays at 4:30pm.
For more information about the program, and questions regarding participation, please contact us at (734) 222-9277.