Research: Heart Rate, Motor Skills and Children with Autism
Physiology & Behavior published research on 20 children – 10 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 10 control subjects to determine how the heart rate adjusts during different physical tests.
Each participant was evaluated using the Eurofit Physical Fitness Test Battery with constant heart rate monitoring. In addition, their parents completed the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales.
The results indicated the following:
1. both groups show the same trend of heart rate increase (during exercise and also during the maximum effort).
2. children with ASD presented a significant lower heart rate compared to the control population.
3. children with ASD showed lower results than controls on plate tapping test, vertical and broad jump tests and the sit up test on the Eurofit Physical Fitness Test Battery.
4. Children with ASD and higher number of falls on the Flamingo balance test
5. children with ASD had lower force on the handgrip test
The researchers concluded that the significant heart rate decrease of the ASD group during physical test could be due to an alteration of the cardiac response. Also, their results concur with previous studies indicating that children with ASD exhibit a lack of motor abilities such as balance and executive functions.
Reference: Marion Pace and Véronique-Aurélie Bricout. Low heart rate response of children with autism spectrum disorders in comparison to controls during physical exercise. Physiology & Behavior. Volume 141, 15 March 2015, Pages 63–68
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