Norwegian Study – exercise and teenagers with autism

A Norwegian Study in the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health – Found that teenagers with autism are less likely to exercise or play team sports than their typical peers

In the study, nearly 9,000 Norwegian teenagers answered questions about their physical activity levels. It was found that half of children with a psychiatric disorder fall into the lowest activity bracket — exercising less than once a week.

22 of the 39 teenagers with autism in the study also exercised less than once a week.

The SFARI article also states that:

‘Roughly 20 percent of teenagers who have anxiety disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and 40 percent of the typical teenagers exercise four or more times a week.’

They also report that nearly 20 percent of toddlers with autism are obese and that once they reach their teenage years they are more likely to spend their free time in front of the television or computer.

With regards to team sports only 19 percent of the teenagers with autism compete in sports.

The article claims that researchers said:

‘Social deficits, one of the core symptoms of autism, may make it difficult for these teenagers to interact with their peers in the setting of team sports. It’s also possible that common motor problems such as clumsiness and poor muscle tone hamper their athletic skills.’

The article goes on to add that the survey’s findings may explain why teenagers with autism prefer individual sports.

‘About 55 percent of those with autism and nearly 70 percent of teenagers with ADHD are active in some kind of solitary sport, although the proportion is still lower than the 85 percent of typical teenagers who are engaged in these activities.’

The full article on the SFARI website can be found here