Haring Center

October 2, 2018

Research to Practice: The Importance of Physical Activity for Students with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Previewing the Haring Center’s 2018-19 DUBs Talk Series

Everyone knows exercise is important to a healthy lifestyle.

However, Haring Center research has identified that the benefits of exercise can extend beyond staying physically healthy for young children with disabilities. These exciting findings will be highlighted in the Haring Center’s 2018-19 DUBs Talks series on the importance of physical activity and play for young children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

DUBs Talks are a series of public talks put on by the Haring Center to ‘Develop, Understand and Build’ (DUB) on research into the current best practices in inclusive education. Much of the research described during DUBs Talks takes place at the Haring Center in the classrooms of the Center’s school, the Experimental Education Unit (EEU).

This year’s DUBs Talks topic is critical for teachers and families of young children with special needs. Children with disabilities often engage in lower rates of physical activity than their typically developing peers. This lack of activity not only has detrimental health effects, but academic, behavioral and social implications as well.

Haring Center researcher Dr. Shane Miramontez’s research focuses on the effects of physical activity on the development of children with disabilities and on practical strategies that teachers can use to optimize time spent in physical play. In a recent study, Miramontez found that how teachers plan and structure their outdoor activities can directly affect how much time children with special needs spend socializing with their peers and increase participation during interactions.

At the fall DUBs Talk on Wednesday, November 7, Dr. Miramontez will share the results of her research in which children with disabilities participated in specific activities both in the classroom and on the playground and how those activities affected their overall level of physical activity and on-task behavior. She will also share examples of activities that can better engage all children during recess.

“I hope people come away learning just how important physical activity can be for all children, but especially children with disabilities,” Miramontez said. “And I hope they learn some new ways to better incorporate physical activities throughout a school day such that all children can physically engaging their world while at school.”

This will be the first of the Haring Center’s two 2018-19 DUBs Talks year exploring strategies to support the physical development of children with disabilities. In the spring 2019 DUBs Talk, Haring Center Researcher Dr. Jen Fung will team up with EEU physical therapists Renee France and Julia Odland to talk about the results of their study of the Special Olympics Young Athletes Curriculum. That study is happening right now at the EEU.

DUBs Talks are free and open to the public. If you wish to attend either DUBs Talk, email pdutrain@uw.edu. If you cannot attend but wish to view, the talk will be live streamed on the Haring Center’s Facebook profile.