Date of Award
Campus Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) participate in physical activity (PA) infrequently compared to adults in the general population. Therefore, they do not reap the physical and mental health benefits of PA, which is particularly problematic for a population that suffers from disproportionate physical and mental health co-morbidities, as well as diminished life expectancy. This study used data from the National Core Indicators-In Person Consumer Survey (n=4,370; age: 18-78) to analyze factors associated with both aerobic PA and muscle strengthening (MS) activity in adults with ASD receiving state Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) using multilevel logistic regression modeling. Mediation analyses and moderation analyses were also employed to examine associations between varied factors and PA and MS. Findings indicated the following significant associations between community engagement and PA: community contact (OR=1.17; p<0.001), community group participation (OR=1.83; p<0.001), and employment/day program participation (OR=1.32; p<0.01). Similarly, aspects of community engagement that were significantly associated with MS activity include: community contact (OR=1.07; p<0.001), community group participation (OR=1.91; p<0.001), and employment/day program participation (OR=1.32; p<0.001). Additionally, self-respondent status mediated the relationship between intellectual disability and MS engagement. These findings suggest that community engagement may facilitate PA and MS activity in adults with ASD. Other factors such as intellectual disability, executive function (i.e. indicated by self-respondent status), and mental health may also influence PA and MS activity in this population. While results are not generalizable to adults with ASD who either do not qualify or otherwise do not partake in state DDS, this research provides insights into adults with ASD receiving state DDS. Results indicate that policies supporting community inclusion of individuals with disabilities are not only right and just, but may also have health implications for adults with ASD receiving state services.
Waldron, Danielle A., "Aging with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Analysis of Physical Activity Engagement" (2020). Graduate Doctoral Dissertations. 552.