The effect of six weeks of Tai Chi Chuan training on the motor skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2019 Apr;23(2):284-290. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2019.01.007. Epub 2019 Jan 28.


Objectives: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is related to a dysfunction of central nervous system that most frequently appears at the age of three years old. There is no certain cure for this disorder; however, decreasing complications can produce positive life changes. Increasing physical activity is an appealing method for reducing behavioral disorders in ASD. Since Tai Chi Chuan training improves focus, attention to internal cues and balance, it seems to be an effective system for autistic children.

Materials & methods: 18 children with ASD in the age range between 6-12 years old were divided randomly into experimental and control groups. The experimental group participated in a six-week program of Tai Chi Chuan consisting of 18 sessions, limited to 60 min each. To assess motor skills, an M-ABC test was used during pre- and post-assessment. In order to analyze the data, dependent and independent T tests were used (with significance level of 0.05).

Results: Results showed a significant difference in the subscales of ball skills and balance performance (P < 0.05) and no significant difference in the manual agility scale (P > 0.05) between the two groups.

Conclusion: According to the results, it may be concluded that forms of Tai Chi Chuan improve balance and motion coordination. Moreover, this training consists of slow motion workouts with strongly focused attention, which may lead to developed control of body motions with harmony and discipline. Therefore, Tai Chi Chuan training seems to be a helpful therapeutic program to reduce motor limitations, and these benefits can be transferred to daily life in autistic children.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Motor skills; Tai Chi Chuan.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Tai Ji / methods*