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Abstract

Background: Given the types of symptoms present in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), interventions should address deficits in motor control, social interactions, and emotional intelligence. Alternative interventions, such as exercise video gaming (exergaming) and dance movement therapy, may address these deficits in an engaging, age-appropriate manner, thus meeting the unique needs of adolescents with ASD.

Objectives: The purpose of this paper was first, to review the current literature on ASD for innovative movement strategies feasible to address emotional, social, cognitive, and physical outcomes for adolescents ages 11-18; and second, to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.

Methods: The databases used were: Pubmed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, EMBASE, CINAHL, Psycinfo, REHABDATA, Human Kinetics Journal, and PEDro. Search terms included: autism or autism spectrum disorder; and dance, dancing or dance therapy, or exergaming, exergame, video gaming or video game. Selected articles were published in the last 10 years, written in English, and included subjects with ASD who participated in dance or exergaming interventions. After the initial screening of articles with relevant titles and abstracts, we included studies with evidence levels of 1-4.

Results: Five dance therapy intervention studies showed moderate effectiveness for social and emotional outcomes such as empathy skills, emotional regulation, and negative symptoms of ASD. Four exergaming studies had moderate effectiveness for motor and physical outcomes, such as energy expenditure and perceived object control.

Implications: Based on the review of dance and exergaming intervention studies, the authors recommend providing the interventions to selected clients depending on individual circumstances. Both dance and exergaming may be cost-effective and feasible in school settings. Future studies should include larger and more diverse samples with rigorous randomization procedures.

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