Praise as a Motivator to Young Adults with Autism

     Exercise should be enjoyed by everyone. It benefits everyone, especially those with handicaps. Young adults and children with autism are one of the groups who can enjoy exercise safely and reap the numerous benefits. However, exercising can be difficult for them to handle. Now there is research to help parents, coaches, trainers, and healthcare providers.

            “Simple statements of praise may have a big effect on the amount of exercise young adults with autism complete, according to preliminary research from the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG). The study also found that praising people with autism by pre-recorded messages through iPhones and iPods shows promise for producing more exercise.

            Research was done by showing a handful of participants online instructions of what to do including running laps or running around cones. They were provided with headphones that played words of encouragement at a set interval. "We found that introducing praise statements corresponded with more physical activity for all participants," Savage said. "The number of laps increased for all of them, regardless of whether they received praise in person or through technology."

            This use of technology can provide an easy form of encouragement that results in greater accomplishment. As technology advances, it will be interesting to see the advancement in studies such as this and others to come.

Journal Reference:

  1. Melissa N. Savage, Teresa Taber-Doughty, Matthew T. Brodhead, Emily C. Bouck. Increasing physical activity for adults with autism spectrum disorder: Comparing in-person and technology delivered praise. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 2018; 73: 115 DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2017.12.019

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. "Praise may motivate young adults with autism to exercise more: Due to the special benefits of regular physical activity for people with autism, researchers explored how to increase their engagement in a regular exercise routine through positive reinforcement.." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2018. <>.