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Scheduled exercise

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What is it?

Exercise, scheduled throughout the day, can play a role in helping to prevent challenging behaviours in some students. It is considered an antecedent based intervention as it can help to prevent some behaviours from occurring in some students. It has been used to help to prevent some stereotypic behaviour, off task behaviour, aggression and self-injury in a small number of studies. Scheduled exercise can be planned throughout the day in short bursts (1 – 20 minutes in duration) and students can be involved in choosing activities.

What is the evidence?

Exercise is an evidence based practice. The evidence accumulated for exercise suggests that it can help to address issues related to behaviours of concern, school-readiness, academic, and motor skills, in combination with other appropriate strategies. Research has focused on using exercise to support the behaviours of students with autism spectrum disorder, and the research on the impact of exercise on behaviours of concern is mostly limited to single case studies. Some studies have found that the inclusion of frequent, short bursts of exercise (up to 8 times per day) reduced the level of aggressive behaviour in students with moderate to severe developmental disabilities.

How do I use it?

Escape/Avoid social situation with adult

Not appropriate.

Escape/Avoid social situation with child

Not appropriate.

Escape/Avoid stimulation or sensation

May be appropriate to trial. Scheduled exercise sessions that incorporate areas of sensory preference that provide students with deep pressure or movement may help a student feel calm.

Escape/Avoid item or activity

Some research has suggested that exercise may support on-task behaviour. Scheduled exercise could be trialled to support this area.

Obtain-Get stimulation or sensation

Limited evidence for this type of behaviour.

Obtain/Get item or activity

Not appropriate.

Obtain/Get social situation with adult

Not appropriate.

Obtain-Get social situation with child

Not appropriate.

Age group

Scheduled exercise has some evidence base with the following age groups.

Preschool
P-2Yes
3-6Yes
High school

Where can I learn more?

  • Lang, R., Koegel, L. K., Ashbaugh, K., Regester, A., Ence, W., & Smith, W. (2010). Physical exercise and individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4(4), 565-576.
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Last updated 24 September 2020