Understanding one’s body and movements - from the perspective of young adults with autism

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragPosterPeer review


Background: There are but a few studies of how persons with autism perceive and experience their bodies and movements. Having autism may mean difficulty with verbalizing these experiences. Difficulties in perceiving the surrounding world along with disturbed motor coordination and executive functions may affect physical and psychological development. Exploring possibilities to capture the experiences of body and movements with physiotherapeutic assessments appears as important in order to administer appropriate interventions.

Purpose: The purpose was to explore the experiences of body and movements in young adults with autism from a first-hand account, and how two physiotherapeutic instruments may capture these experiences.

Methods: Eleven young adults (16-22 years) with autism were interviewed and assessed using Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOT2) and Body Awareness Scale Movement Quality and Experience (BAS MQ-E). Following a mixed-methods design, the interviews were deductively analyzed and conceptually integrated to the results of the two assessments.

Results: Development of a bodily self-consciousness is hindered in persons with autism. A key finding was that an inactive movement center led to coordination and breathing difficulties. Experiencing conflicting feelings about their bodies/movements, led to low understanding of themselves. Positive experiences and better movement quality related to having access to more functional daily strategies. The combined assessments captured these experiences relatively well, presenting both movement quality and quantity.

Conclusion: Combining motor proficiency and body awareness assessments was optimal to understand the participants’ experiences. The assessments gave good information about the experiences, i.e. describing the experiences of the participants. Future work needs to investigate the validity of the body awareness instrument and also to investigate the effects of body awareness interventions to persons with autism.

Implications: To capture body and movement functions in persons with autism in this standardized manner is a way to describe body and movements for a group that may have difficulties verbalizing their experiences. In the physiotherapeutic clinic this will lead to improved and reliable diagnoses and administering tailored interventions. For the persons with autism this may lead to increased body awareness and activity, and enhanced quality of life.
StatusPublished - 2019 maj 12
EvenemangWCPT 2019 - Switzerland, Geneva, Schweiz
Varaktighet: 2019 maj 102019 maj 14


KonferensWCPT 2019

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