Trampoline physical training model for children with autistic spectrum disorders

PhD, Associate Professor V.K. Klimova1
PhD, Associate Professor L.E. Pakhomova1
PhD, Associate Professor O.V. Petrenko1
PhD, Associate Professor E.S. Nikolaeva1
1Belgorod State National Research University, Belgorod

Keywords: autistic spectrum disorders, trampoline trainings, adaptive physical culture, ergotherapy, somato-sensoric integration.

Introduction. Child autism is presently ranked among top four most common child diseases and interpreted as a special mental development disorder due to some biological growth deficiency. Screening studies estimate the prevalence of child autism as 3-6 in 10,000 children, moreover, this disease is 3-4 times more frequent amongst boys rather than girls. It was found that an autistic child can be born in any environment, to parents of any social status, education and qualification [1, 5]. The number of people with autistic spectrum disorders is growing rapidly throughout the world: in 2016, there were 10 times more patients than 10 years ago [6].
The number of children with autistic spectrum disorders in Russia is about 10 times higher than official statistics reports. According to the Charitable Foundation "Vykhod", there may be more than 20,000 such children in Moscow, while officially, there are a little more than 2,500 [3].
The search for effective means of correction and comprehensive rehabilitation of autistic children enabled scientists and practitioners studying the development and signs of autism, Asperger syndrome, and autistic spectrum disorders to give recommendations on how to conduct trampoline trainings as effective adaptive physical practices. By calming the child and increasing his concentration, trampolining increases the degree of his involvement in the activity in a natural way. Trampoline trainings can be used as a comprehensive means of pedagogical influence on autistic children: counting, jumping on a particular color or shape, instruction execution, etc. In many cases, trampolining helps to cope with stresses and compose oneself; improves motor and sensorimotor skills, coordination abilities; develops the vestibular apparatus; accelerates mental processes and contributes to the integration of brain structures; decreases hyperactivity [2].
Experts believe that trampoline trainings designed based on a proprioceptive image of the body and balancing coordination on an unstable surface can be used to develop physical and motor skills (ergotherapy), improve sensory information processing (sensory integration), as well as optimize the process of socialization of autistic children (social adaptation).
Objective of the study was to increase the effectiveness of trampoline physical training (adaptive trampoline) model for children with minor and moderate autistic spectrum disorders.
Methods and structure of the study. The study involved the 6-10 year-old children (n=20, including 14 boys and 6 girls) diagnosed with minor and moderate autistic spectrum disorders. Most children attended speech therapy classes and a psychologist. The adaptive trampoline training method was developed on the basis of the Teach Program and Self-Concept [4]. The trainings were based on an interdisciplinary approach, which included somato-sensoric integration, game practices, adaptive physical practices, and ABA (applied behavioral analysis) trainings. The training sessions were held 3 times a week throughout the academic year and lasted 45-50 minutes each. At the first stage (4 months), the children were to adapt to the training conditions and assimilate individual elements of the program. The methodology was implemented at the second stage (6 months).
At each stage, an important part of the lesson was the selection of reinforcing stimuli: tactile contact and vestibular sensations pleasant for an autistic child (swaying on a trampoline, stroking, encouraging, etc.). At the first stages of the trampoline training, the students demonstrated low physical activity and low level of communication skills. Some children were found to have an aggressive attitude towards others, a fear of training on a new gymnastic apparatus or in a new unusual environment. This period lasted from 6 to 20 training sessions. Upon completing the initial training stage, the children’s fear faded away, their aggression rate decreased; they became more interested in the trampoline trainings as well as in the instructions and encouragements of a coach. The adaptation period was followed by self-reliant (without the presence of parents) trainings with the coach. The children with autistic spectrum disorders were offered to perform the exercises in a certain sequence (from easy to difficult) and given 3 attempts to perform each exercise with a 15 sec break. This contributed to the attention focusing on certain exercises and emotional arousal decrease.
Pedagogical testing was carried out at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. The battery of tests included: vertical jumps in place with eyes closed (cm); standing long backward jumps (cm); standing long jump on a hard surface (cm); sitting toe touches (cm); sit-ups (reps); low bar pull-ups (reps); Romberger test (s).
Expert evaluation was carried out by trainers on a specially developed scale, where the maximum number of points was 5, the minimum - 0. The following exercises were evaluated.
1. Diagonal jumps with half turn (to detect the misaligned diagonal, estimated flight phase, repulsion technique, jump height and length).
2. Forward jumps on the trampoline frame pads (to evaluate repulsion and landing phases, jump height, coordination of movements).
3. Full rotation plank (to assess change of position, fixation of the elbows, static position, and dynamics in the performance).
4. Scissors jumps on the trampoline frame pads (to register number of times when the trainees missed the frame pads, failed to change legs or push, lacked balance).
Results and discussion. Table 1 presents the results of testing of the children’s physical qualities at the beginning of the experiment. After the experiment, there was a steady tendency towards an increase in the test results for each child in particular and the entire group, but a statistically significant increase in the results was observed in three tests characterizing the trainees’ coordination and speed-strength abilities.
  
Table 1. Results of testing of physical qualities of subjects (М+m)

 Test

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1st stage

18.3+1.2

31.0+5.6

22.1+2.1

-14.9+1.5

8.9+1.6

3.5+0.6

16.1+1.9

2nd stage

25.3+2.4*

38.2+2.2

30.3+3.2*

-8.9+0.8

12.1+3.1

4.9+0.9

30.4+2.1*

7.0

7.2

6.2

+6.0

3.2

1.4

14.3

Legend. 1 – vertical jumps in place with eyes closed (cm); 2 - standing long backward jumps (cm);   3 – standing long jump on a hard surface (cm); 4 – sitting toe touches (cm); 5 – sit-ups for 30 s (reps);  6 – low bar pull-ups (reps); 7 – Romberger test (s). 1st stage – test rates before the experiment. 2nd stage – test rates after the experiment. * – the differences are significant at р<0.05.

The results of expert evaluation are presented in Table 2. It was found that the greatest increase in the results (0.9 points) was observed in the first test. The maximum increase in the individual results was estimated at 1 point. The positive effect of trainings was confirmed by the increase in the total exercise performance rate by 2.5 points.

Table 2. Total expert evaluation of basic trampoline routines, points

Diagonal jumps with half turn

Forward jumps on trampoline frame pads

Full rotation plank

Scissors jumps on trampoline frame pads

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

3.1

4.0

3.8

4.3

2.9

3.6

3.9

4.3

∆=0.9

∆=0.5

∆=0.7

∆=0.4

Conclusions. When organizing trampoline trainings for children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders, it is important to use a personalized approach, which enables to promote their interest in physical education activities and ensures their optimal social adaptation.
The trampoline physical training model was tested beneficial as verified by the children’s stable progress in the physicality test rates, with some tests showing significant progress; plus growth of the Romberger test rates indicative of the better vestibular balancing skills and proprioception – of influence on the body imaging patterns. Every child was tested by experts with progress in the pre- versus post- trampoline training tests, increased interest in the practices, and the better socializing qualities noted also by the families and trainer.

References

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Corresponding author: klimova@bsu.edu.ru

Abstract
Child autism is presently ranked among top four most common child diseases and interpreted as a special mental development disorder due to some biological growth deficiency. Autistic spectrum disorders are associated with socializing problems including the verbal and nonverbal communication deficiencies, sensory processing challenges, habitual awkward behavioral models and poor physical progress rates. The article analyzes benefits of trampoline physical training (adaptive trampoline) model for children with minor and moderate autistic spectrum disorders. The trampoline model is dominated by trainings on an unstable surface designed based on the Teach Program and Self-concept with ergotherapy, somato-sensoric integration, game practices, adaptive physical practices and ABA trainings to secure progress in physical skills, balancing and movement coordination abilities and socializing qualities.
The trampoline physical training model was tested beneficial as verified by the children’s stable progress in the physicality test rates, with some tests showing meaningful progress; plus growths of the Romberger test rates indicative of the better vestibular balancing skills and proprioception – of influence on the body imaging patterns. Every child was tested by experts with progress in the pre- versus post- trampoline training tests, increased interest in the practices, and the better socializing qualities noted also by the families and trainer.