Author(s)

Christopher Fox

Date Approved

6-19-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Special Education

Department

Language, Literacy, and Special Education

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Xin, Joy

Subject(s)

Autistic youth;Exercise

Disciplines

Special Education and Teaching

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of fitness activities on communication skills of adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Over the course of 12 weeks, 3 middle school students with ASD participated in a wellness program focusing on learning social and conversational skills through practicing verbal language in a 1:1 situation, paired with peers, and whole group instruction. The initiation and maintenance of their conversation through reciprocal responses, and responses to questions and comments were evaluated. Participants gained social communication (e.g. requests, responses, and making comments), as well as conversational skills (e.g. reciprocity, listener knowledge, verbosity, topic management, discourse, and response language). The end survey also presented positive responses from parents. Having access to a fitness program seems to provide these adolescents with social experiences during their play and activities with others to create an avenue for learning social communication skills in an interesting, interactive, and healthy way.

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