Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Intellectual disabilities (ID) and developmental disabilities (DD) are characterised by limitations in both intellectual functioning and adaptive behaviours. They include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), specific learning disorders and genetic disorders (including Down Syndrome and Fragile X). ASD is the most commonly reported behavioural disorder among children with disability, with 13% of Australians diagnosed with an ID or DD. Children with ASD often find it difficult to interact and/or communicate in social contexts, and often experience repetitive patterns of behaviours and interests, sometimes making it difficult to engage in healthy lifestyle interventions.
Children (and particularly adolescents) with ID/DD have increased risk for the development of secondary health conditions which are directly related to sedentary lifestyles, including; cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and obesity. There are a number of ID specific mechanisms associated with these risk factors, including:
- Reduced physical activity due to reduced inclusion in team sports, poor motor coordination (and fundamental movement skill development) and/or social isolation.
- Increased sedentary behaviours (particularly screen-time) due to behaviour management and restrictive patterns of behaviour.
- Energy imbalance through food selectivity and aversion, the use of food as a behavioural reinforcer, and the increased support required to manage mealtime behaviours.
- Negative side effects of commonly prescribed psychotropic medications to manage behaviours and underlying mental illnesses.
If you have any concerns about your child and exercise please get in touch with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who can develop a suitable exercise program.