Downhill skiing; Autism spectrum disorders in children--Treatment; Behavior therapy for children--United States; Recreational therapy for children


Research has shown that physical activity and sensory input can have positive effects on the behavior of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study sought to examine whether participation in a seven week alpine skiing program had an effect on behaviors of children with an ASD as well as to examine the family’s perspective regarding their child’s participation in the program. Participants were recruited through an adaptive ski program and included three children with an ASD and one of their parent's. The Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) was used to assess sensory-based behaviors. A questionnaire was developed to (1) examine parent-identified hopes for ski program participation and the extent the hopes were fulfilled and (2) describe the intensity of parent-identified challenging behaviors and the effect of the ski program on these behaviors. These measures were completed before and after the child’s participation in the seven week ski program. Results indicated subtle changes in behaviors. Additionally, some associations were found between changes in behavior and the fulfillment of parent-identified hopes for ski program participation. Further studies should examine how occupational therapists can use recreational activities, such as alpine skiing, to complement treatment activities when working with children with an ASD.

First Advisor

Renee Watling

Date of Completion

Spring 2010

Degree Type







Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)

Date of Award

January 2010


Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound