Vanier scholar is studying whether autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects exercise among children
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, one in 94 Canadian children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
While there are various severities of the disorder, children who suffer from this condition can be socially or psychologically withdrawn. As a result, they have communication and overall behaviour problems.
Emily Bremer has been interested in helping children with ASD since pursuing her undergraduate degree in health sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
“I coached children with ASD in soccer,” said Ms. Bremer, “and I noticed how a sport can help them better interact with others on the field and at school.”
As a Vanier Scholar and PhD candidate in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, Ms. Bremer is researching whether or not children with ASD take part in exercise. With the help of participants with ASD, aged 7-12, she will first evaluate which current tests (such as treadmill running, cycling, walking, sprinting, long jump measurements, flexibility, and hand grip strength) are the best ways to measure physical fitness among children. She will then compare those fitness results to those of children without the disorder to determine if there are any differences. This will help Ms. Bremer to design a new intervention for physical fitness among children with ASD.
“Once the new intervention is implemented by community members,” added Ms. Bremer, “I can then examine whether it benefits the overall physical and psychological health of children with ASD.”
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