Community barriers to physical activity for families with a child with autism spectrum disorder.

This article explored the systemic barriers that families with an autistic child face when attempting to engage in physical activity in their community.



Families with a child on the autism spectrum face challenges to participating in physical activity in the community. Yet, little research has examined these families’ experiences and perspectives on such participation.


This phenomenological study used semistructured interviews to collect data from 13 families with a child on the autism spectrum to understand their experiences as a family attempting to access physical activity opportunities.


Families discussed four overall themes related to participating in physical activity in the community: (1) safety outside the home, (2) lack of acceptance, (3) behavior affecting the family participation, (4) and limited opportunity for activity.


Evidence suggests that physical activity can provide tremendous opportunities to build better connections within the community and improve quality of life, but the barriers discussed by parents in the present study suggest that families and their children on the autism spectrum might not yet have the same opportunities for access or support.

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Blagrave_2019_Experiences Participating in Community Physical Activity by Families with a Child on the Autism Spectrum- a Phenomenological Inquiry.pdf808.1KB