Claudia List Hilton, Kristina Cumpata, Cheryl Klohr, Shannon Gaetke, Amanda Artner, Hailey Johnson, Sarah Dobbs; Effects of Exergaming on Executive Function and Motor Skills in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Study. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(1):57–65. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.008664
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
Executive function (EF) and motor deficits have consistently been documented in studies of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We investigated the effects of a pilot 30-session Makoto arena training intervention, a light and sound speed-based exergame, on response speed, EF, and motor skills in school-aged children with ASD. Strong correlations were seen between certain EF and motor scores, suggesting a relationship between the two constructs. Participants increased their average reaction speed (effect size = 1.18). Significant improvement was seen in the EF areas of working memory and metacognition and the motor area of strength and agility. Findings suggest that use of exergaming, specifically the Makoto arena, has the potential to be a valuable addition to standard intervention for children with ASD who have motor and EF impairments.
Does response speed improve after participation in the Makoto arena intervention?
Does EF improve after participation in the Makoto arena intervention?
Does motor performance improve after participation in the Makoto arena intervention?
This pilot study provides initial evidence suggesting that exergaming, specifically use of the Makoto arena, may be useful for improving EF and motor skills in children on the autism spectrum. Identification of effective, interesting, and motivating interventions is important to provide the optimal impact through therapy for children with ASD.
We found significant correlations between certain EF and motor scores, suggesting a relationship between the two constructs. Continued work addressing this line of inquiry to further understand and possibly increase the benefits of various types of exergaming for people with ASD will be valuable steps toward best practice.
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