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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Instructor implemented Positive Behaviour Support in a fitness program for adolescents and adults with autism Rodas, Tara


Research indicates that there is a need for fitness and recreational opportunities for adolescents and young adults with autism. There is also research indicating there is a need for instructor training in the areas of behaviour support, communication strategies, and curriculum development. The study investigated the effectiveness of the I CAN Get fit program, a community-based group fitness program for adolescents and young adults with autism. The program uses Behavioural Skills Training (BST) to teach fitness instructors to implement Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) to support the participation of individuals with autism. Fourteen adolescents and young adults with autism and eight fitness instructors participated in the study. A randomized control trial with a waitlist control group evaluated the effects of the I CAN Get Fit program. Dependent measures included instructor fidelity of implementation of PBS strategies, and participant engagement, problem behavior, physical fitness, social relationships and community participation. Direct observation data and assessment instrument-based data were gathered across three assessment periods: Baseline, post-intervention and follow-up. Results documented statistically significant improvements in instructor use of PBS strategies and in participant engagement and problem behavior following implementation of the fitness program. However, no change within or between groups was evidenced in physical fitness and in community participation. Although improvement was shown in interpersonal relationships post-intervention for both groups, these changes were non-significant when compared to the first baseline. Results are discussed in terms of relations and unique contributions to the literature, implications for the provision of community-based fitness programs to adolescents and young adults with autism, limitations and cautions, and future research. Keywords: autism; fitness; recreation; positive behaviour support; behavioural skills training

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