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Influence of a specific aquatic program on social and gross motor skills in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Three case reports


Swimming pool activities revealed to be efficacious to train psychomotor skills and increase adaptive behaviors in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of a specific multi-systemic aquatic therapy (CI-MAT) on gross motor and social skills in three adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Methods: three adolescents with ASD of which two boys (M1 with a chronological age of 10.3 years and a mental age of 4.7 years; M2 with a chronological age of 14.6 and a mental age inferior to 4 years) and one girl (chronological age of 14.0 and a mental age inferior to 4 years). The study was divided into three phases: baseline, 12-week CI-MAT program and Post-Test. Participants were administered a battery of tests incorporating anthropometric measurements, gross motor development test and a social skills questionnaire before and after a 12-week MAT-CI program. Results: Subjects improved locomotors and object control skills following the CI-MAT program in a different way. Concerning social behaviors, the higher proportion of gains was observed in the sensitivity of other's presence and eye contact, for the contact domain, and in the comply turn for the relationship domain. Conclusions: The results of this study showed that the CI-MAT program was effective for the development of gross-motor skills and social behaviors in subjects with ASD. Moreover there is an urge to carry out a whole psychological assessment targeting both motor and adaptive development suitable to provide educational and vocational plans of exercises for people with ASD.