The Physical Activity Levels and Play Behaviours of Children with Special Needs: An Exploratory Cross-sectional Study.

Daniel David Bingham, Lynne M Boddy, Nicola D Ridgers, Gareth Stratton



This study examined whether children with special needs (SN) achieve current physical activity (PA) guidelines and identify whether habitual PA levels, recess PA and play behaviours differed between different SN’s.


Twenty-five children (aged 11.16 ± 2.37) had PA monitored over 7-days using accelerometry. Recess behaviours were observed using the System for Observing Children’s Activity and Relationships during Play (SOCARP). Participants’ SN(s) were categorised as either autism (AUS), behavioural and emotional needs (BEN) or any other SN (OTH).


Children took part in 46.88 minutes ± 9.10 of MVPA. BEN children (65.55 min ± 20.50) were more active than AUS (43.40 minutes ± 27.50). AUS children spent more time playing alone and less time in groups then the BEN and OTH groups (p≤ 0.05).


Only 3 children met PA guidelines, with all 3 having BEN. PA levels and play behaviours differ by SN.


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