Step It Up: Increasing Physical Activity for Adults with ASD and ID through Self-Management

Principal Investigator(s):
Kara Hume, Ph.D.
Melissa Savage, Ph.D.
Grant Type:
Applied Research
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Carrboro, North Carolina
Year Awarded:
Employment, Transition, and Adults; Health and Sensory Issues


While there are many benefits to regular engagement in physical activity, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with intellectual disability (ID) often do not engage in healthy levels of physical activity. Low motivation, poor motor skills, and behavioral challenges combine to make engaging in physical activity challenging. There are a few interventions that have been effective in increasing physical activity levels for adults with ASD and ID including goal setting, self-monitoring, and reinforcement. The proposed study will extend the existing research by looking at the impact of using self-management components to increase physical activity for adults with ASD and ID as well as its feasibility in home settings. The study will use a RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-managed exercise program on daily step counts, health measures, and perceived quality of life for adults with ASD and ID. Forty adults with ASD and ID will be randomly assigned to a control group (n = 20) or an intervention group (n = 20). Both groups will receive Fitbits, Fitbit training, and participate in pre- and post-assessments. The intervention group will participate in the self-managed exercise program. Feasibility will be assessed using questionnaires and interviews with interventionists and participants. This study will provide valuable data on using a self-managed exercise program as well as insight to the feasibility of using such an intervention in home settings.


See an in-depth preview of the study in progress, including rationale, goals, methodology, expected results, and implications.

Read the Preview

Back to Funded Research