Management of Stereotype Behaviour in Autism: Efficacy of Structured Physical Exercises on Gender
Katiwa, Edna T.
Wanderi, P. M.
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Autism is a developmental disorder, which is typically characterized by an inability to develop normal social relationships, compulsive and ritualistic behaviour and failure to develop normal intelligence. A characteristic feature commonly seen among people with autism is the abnormal stereotype behaviours. These behaviours engaged in at various times also inhibit the ability to learn or take part in activities appropriately. This study set out to investigate the efficacy of using structured physical exercises as an. intervention for managing stereotype behaviours amongst boys and girls with autism. The study targeted 34 autistic children from the Nairobi Autism Unit for individuals with autism which was purposively selected. All the children constituted the sample of the study. The children were given treatment using physical exercises for a period of eleven weeks. The adaptive exercise routine used structured teaching principles explained by Hong (2001) and Schopler, et al., (1995). The Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist was used as the main tool for collecting data. The dependent variables considered were those behaviours found in the ATEC evaluation checklist and included: Speech/ Language/Communication Sensory/ Cognitive awareness, Sociability and Health/ Physical behaviours. To test the hypotheses, dependent t-test was used where hypotheses were either rejected or not rejected at 0.05 alpha level. From the findings there was a reduction in stereotype behaviour in both male and female autistic children. The male recorded significant changes in three behaviour domains except in speech/ language/ communication, which had no significant difference at post-test. The girls had slightly better changes at post-test that were significant. From the findings, the following recommendations were proposed: Structured physical exercise should be used as a means to manage the challenging behaviour and enhance better health and wellness amongst individuals with autism. Studies also need to be carried out to establish the physical fitness levels of individuals with autism in Kenya for the establishment of more specific fitness programmes for this population.