Alberto Cei */** and Daniela Sepio **/***
(*) Department of Human Sciences and Promotion of the Quality of Life, San Raffaele Roma Open University, Rome, Italy
(**) School of Sport and exercise Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
(***) ASD Accademia Calcio Integrato, Rome, Italy
Cei, A., Sepio, D. (2022). A case study of psychological empowerment of three children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through football coaching. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 53(3), 281-302. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2022.53.281
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that appears during the first three years of life and is characterized by communication prob- lems, deficits in social interaction, and repetitive and restricted interests and be- haviors. Although sport provides an opportunity to promote the psychosocial and motor development of people with intellectual disabilities, few investigations have been conducted to identify the most suitable training method for children with ASD (Bremer et al., 2016). The aim of this research was to study the psychologi- cal and motor development of three children with severe ASD. The children were placed in a sports programme called “Football Together”, which lasted 8 months and included two weekly training sessions. The development of the participants’ psychosocial and interpersonal skills was assessed through semi-structured inter- views with the parents before and after the entire period of activity. It was also assessed through systematic observation of the children’s behaviour during train- ing by a sports psychologist throughout the programme. The three children im- proved their motor and interpersonal skills through the training programme. The training model and evaluation methods revealed the key role played by the sport and football in the motor and psychosocial development of children with ASD.
Keywords: Autism, children, sport program, attentional skills, social skills, parents