The Outcomes of an Adapted Tennis Program in Children and Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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Individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Intellectual Disability, etc.) exhibit difficulties performing motor skills and show lower physical activities levels compared to peers without disability. Tennis is an ideal sport for individuals with disabilities because participants can increase their skill levels at their own pace, while still engaging in a social environment (e.g., other participants on the court). This dissertation examined the outcomes from an 8-week adapted tennis program for adults with developmental disabilities (n=27) with respect to motor skill outcomes. Based on the results from this program, modifications were developed to improve the structure of the curriculum including additional visual and behavioral supports for an adapted tennis program specifically for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The visual supports and behavioral modifications were implemented to augment the basic curriculum provided by ACEing Autism, a national non-profit organization that developed an adapted tennis program for children and adolescents with ASD. The effects of the modified ACEing Autism program are discussed with respect to changes in tennis skills and physical activity levels in children and adolescents with ASD (n=22). Changes in motor appropriate, inappropriate, and supported behaviors in the participants of this program (n=19) were also measured. The results suggested that every participant improved in tennis skills from pre- to post test in both studies adults with DD (n=27) and children with ASD (n=22). In addition, children with ASD spent 50% of the time or more in motor appropriate behaviors and decreased inappropriate behaviors over time. The adapted tennis program can be broadly implemented in other populations, as well as the implications for the implementation in the context of physical education and after-school programs.