Current research about pediatric obesity and weight related concerns for children with autism will be presented. The barriers to weight management will be explored (medications, food selectivity, screen time, sensory/behavioral issues, and decreased physical opportunities). Up-to-date research about the impact physical activity, central adiposity, and body mass index has on life expectancy will be relayed.
Ways to increase access to physical opportunities will be shared to support the APTA’s vision of “transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Attendees will be given concrete examples to increase movement for children with autism when students are in school and with their families. A school-wide Wellness Committee, use of the School Health Index, and collaboration will be discussed as integral ways to promote lasting changes in academic settings.
Two case reviews will illustrate translation of theory into practice. A government funded fitness, wellness, and obesity program in an urban school will be discussed. A health promotion program currently implemented at an approved private school that serves children with autism will be highlighted. Educational initiatives, staff training, collaboration, roles in school wellness committees, and fitness opportunities will be examined.