Hannah Wisniewski '18 Neuroscience, Emily Breviglia '17 Developmental Disabilities and Human Services, and faculty member Ashley Woodman (pictured left to right) have published a new article in the Journal of Clinical Medicine entitled "The Effect of Music on Exercise Intensity among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Study".
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at risk for obesity, commonly have sleep disorders, and exhibit stereotypic behaviors that disrupt their learning. Vigorous levels of exercise have been shown to ameliorate these issues in children with ASD, but little research exists to provide techniques for motivating children with ASD to engage in exercise. The present study examined the effect of music on exercise intensity in a group of 13 elementary school students with ASD. Data were collected across six days during structured (e.g., verbal and physical prompts) and unstructured (e.g., minimal prompting) exercise periods. During these exercise periods, three music conditions were randomized: no music, slow-tempo music, and fast-tempo music. Exercise intensity, measured in Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks by triaxial accelerometers, was greatest during the structured exercise periods and during the slow music condition. Student characteristics moderated the impact of music condition on exercise intensity, such that students with high levels of adaptive behavior or lower levels of maladaptive behavior displayed greater exercise intensity during the fast music condition.