Using Sport as a Vehicle to Enhance Teamwork Skills in Young People and Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Using Sport as a Vehicle to Enhance Teamwork Skills in Young People and Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can be defined as “persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction” and “restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests” (this includes sensory behaviour), to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning” (APA: 2013). The disorder is more commonly identified in those under the age of 14 with somewhere in the region of 1:69 to 1:88 children diagnosed in the UK annually (Christensen et al. 2018; Bishop-Fitzpatrick, Minshew & Eack, 2013). Further, boys (23.4 per 1000) are also thought to be considerably more likely to display ASD characteristics than girls (5.2 per 1000). Those who experience ASD are also more likely to be excluded from school, suffer poor health and health care, underemployed, and be poorly served by the criminal justice system (The Autism Dividend, 2017: p.17). Despite the prevalence of the disorder, research examining the associated mechanisms and interventions attempting to improve the social skills and everyday functioning of those with ASD are scarce. The purpose of the present research, is to examine the use of sport as a vehicle to develop social skills in young people diagnosed with ASD. Sport in an intrinsically motivating context for many young people, team sport is thought to support the development of verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and video feedback has been shown as an effective tool to enhance social skills in those with ASD (Boyd et al., 2015). To achieve this we propose conducting a qualitative grounded theory exploration of the personal, social, and environmental needs of those with ASD in a sport setting.

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John P. Mills
Lecturer in Sports Performance and Coaching

My research interests include leadership and coaching, moral development (i.e., character, teamwork and group dynamics, and anti-doping.