Efficacy of Group-Based Organised Physical Activity Participation for Social Outcomes in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Katherine Howells, Carmel Sivaratnam, Tamara May, Ebony Lindor, Jane McGillivray, Nicole Rinehart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this novel review and meta-analysis was to clarify the effects of group-based organised physical activity (OPA) for social and communicative outcomes in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Searches yielded 4347 articles. Eleven were identified for review and seven for meta-analysis. Pooled statistical results revealed a non-significant effect for communication (k = 4; g = 0.13, CI [− 0.12, 0.38], p =.13) and a significant small-medium improvement in overall social functioning (k = 6; g = 0.45, CI [0.19, 0.72], p =.001). Despite acknowledged limitations, these findings are important in the context of a growing clinical and consumer-driven demand for research that determines the role of OPA as a non-medical and inclusive treatment for children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3290-3308
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • ASD
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Group-based
  • Meta analysis
  • Organised physical activity
  • Social functioning

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