Can a community-based football program benefit motor ability in children with autism spectrum disorder? A pilot evaluation considering the role of social impairments

Katherine Howells, Carmel Sivaratnam, Ebony Lindor, Jason He, Christian Hyde, Jane McGillivray, Rujuta B. Wilson, Nicole Rinehart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This non-randomised pilot study evaluated the impact of a community football program on motor ability in children aged 5–12 years with autism spectrum disorder. Sixteen children were evaluated at baseline-and-post attendance in a football program for a varied number of weeks and compared to 19 children engaging in treatment-as-usual. Primary analyses indicated a statistically significant increase in total MABC-2, aiming and catching, and balance scores for the intervention group, with no changes in scores in the comparison group. There were no changes in manual dexterity across either group. At a between group level, the changes in aiming and catching scores were significantly greater for the intervention group. Further analyses highlighted the potential importance of social impairments regarding aiming and catching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-413
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Community-based
  • Football
  • Motor ability
  • Organised physical activity
  • Social skills

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