Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Rehabilitation and Movement Science

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Jeremy Sibold

Second Advisor

Susan Kasser

Third Advisor

Sarah Abrams


physical activity, Autism Spectrum Disorder, symptom severity, ASRS, CPAQ, barriers


While the beneficial effects of exercise on physical and mental well-being, as well as the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), are well known, there is a gap in literature on the effect of physical activity (PA) on the psycho-social symptoms of ASD. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between physical activity and symptom severity in adolescents with ASD. Participants who have children with ASD between the ages of 6 and 18 were solicited through the Vermont Family Network. The measures we used in this study were the Autism Spectrum Rating Scale (ASRS), the CPAQ (Children’s Physical Activity Questionnaire), and a demographics form that had an additional segment asking parents to rank various PA barriers their children might encounter. A simple correlational analyses was run between the ASRS and CPAQ results. Three families participated in the study. Family members reported their children encountering both physical and social barriers to PA; of the barriers reported, difficulty with team sport interaction, an inability to self-monitor, and limited motor functioning were reported to be most inhibitory to the child’s participation in PA. Subjects were reported to average about 4 hours of leisure-time PA per week, with only 20 minutes of sport-related activity. Strong associations were seen between number of minutes spent in leisure-time PA and both the severity and treatment scales of the ASRS; individuals who were rated with an above average presence of ASD symptoms (i.e. Social/Communication, Unusual Behaviors, Self-Regulation) were also reported to partake in a low volume of PA. While this was a small pilot study, the findings do indicate general inverse associations between time spent in leisure-time PA and both the severity and treatment scales of the ASRS. If these trends were seen on a larger scale, implications could lead to prescribing PA as a means of complimenting traditional management of ASD. Future studies should examine larger, more heterogeneous samples to establish significance within these trends.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.