Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




autism, disorder, children, social, communication


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 1 in 68 children in the United States (Center for Disease Control, 2016). The disorder is characterized by deficits in social interaction, verbal communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors (DSM- V, 2013). While the apparent cause of ASD is biological, the diagnosis remains based on social deficits (Hapé & Frith, 1996). Exercise has been found to improve executive function for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, but motivation is an issue and exergames hold promise. This pilot study evaluated an interactive Physical and Cognitive Exercise System (iPACES™), wherein children pedal and steer along a virtual bike path to score points. Sixteen children participated in a single bout. Paper and pencil assessments of executive function (Trails, Stroop, Digit Span) were used for first participants (n=5), then the assessments (Trails, Stroop, Flanker) were digitized for the rest of the sample (n=11). Four were ASD, and seven were typically developing (TD; mean age = 13.07 ± 3.57). Paired t-tests revealed significant improvement for the entire cohort (n=5) on Stroop C paper assessments (p=.03). Repeated ANOVAs revealed significant improvement on Flanker (p=.047) and Trails (p=.015) ratio scores for the TD group, but not the ASD group. Further research is warranted, given the demonstrated feasibility of iPACES; a larger sample may clarify the possibly differential effect of exergaming for ASD versus TD, which may be due to varying levels of physical exertion during the neuroexergame.