ABSTRACT: Background: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate delayed gross motor skills and decreased participation in physical activity with and without peers. The objective of this intervention was to examine the effects of group gross motor activity sessions in preschoolers with autism emphasizing motor learning through task specific practice and developmentally appropriate activities. Methods: Two preschool aged boys with ASD completed a five-week program in a small group format. Jumping, hopping and galloping skills were assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. (TGMD-2) Participation in gross motor activities and interactions with peers were timed during observations of classroom based gross motor sessions. Results: All raw scores on the TGMD-2 improved, with galloping and jumping showing the largest average increase of 5 points and 3 points respectively. Participant one increased his total time participating in classroom gross motor activities by 21.85% and with peers by 22.8%. Participant two increased his total time participating by 34% and with peers by 2.9%. Conclusion: These results suggest that group based gross motor activities were effective in improving motor skills and participation in the two participants and support further research in this area with a larger sample size. Improving motor skill level and participation in physical activities has the potential to improve overall development and opportunities for social engagement in children with ASD.
KEYWORDS: Children, autism spectrum disorder, gross motor skills, participation, preschoolers, group.