Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in speech and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviors (DSM-IV, 2013). This disorder currently affects 1 in 59 children in the United States and is continually increasing (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018). Exercise as a form of intervention for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder has been found to yield some cognitive benefits (Finkelstein et al, 2011); however, motivating children to exercise may be difficult. Some research has explored the use of exergaming as a potentially more engaging form of exercise due to the integration of videogames, and some cognitive benefits have been observed, including a decrease in repetitive behaviors (Anderson-Hanley et al., 2011). This pilot study examined a single bout of neuro-exergaming (specifically designed to target executive function) for youth ranging from primary and secondary school through college, including those on the autism spectrum. This study aims to further evaluate the prior finding that exergaming can produce a positive effect on cognitive functioning and the reduction of autism-related behaviors (Anderson-Hanley et al, 2011; Hilton CL et al, 2014). iPad-based interactive Physical and Cognitive Exercise System (iPACES), paired with an under-desk stationary elliptical, in which participants played an exergame (a virtual biking game that is controlled by pedaling). Participants were given a series of cognitive and behavioral tasks before and after exergaming (e.g., Stroop, Trails, GARS). Data collection has begun with the goal of evaluating at 20-30 participants. Statistical analyses will examine change over time. If significant effects are found, this would have implications for future research and possibly also interventions with youth on the Autism Spectrum.
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