Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health

ISSN: 1745-0179 ― Volume 16, 2020

Exergames for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview

João L. Lima1, Glaciane Axt1, Diogo S. Teixeira2, Diogo Monteiro3, 4, *, Luis Cid3, 4, Tetsuya Yamamoto5, Eric Murillo-Rodriguez6, Sergio Machado1
1 Laboratório de Neurociência da Atividade Física, Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências da Atividade Física, Universidade Salgado de Oliveira (UNIVERSO), Niterói, RJ, Brazil
2 Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, ULHT, Lisbon, Portugal
3 Research Centre in Sports, Health and Human Development, CIDESD, Vila Real, Portugal
4 Sport Science School of Rio Maior, Polytechnique Institute of Santarém, Rio Maior, Portugal
5 Graduate School of Technology, Industrial and Social Sciences, Tokushima University, Tokushima, Japan
6 Laboratorio de Neurociencias Moleculares e Integrativas, Escuela de Medicina, División Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Anáhuac Mayab, Mérida, Mexico


Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder associated with various etiologies and characterized by deficits in social interaction, emotional reciprocity, communication, motor skills and cognitive functions. Studies have proposed that limited levels of physical activity and late motor skills and fitness, particularly in children and adolescents with ASD, may accentuate social and emotional deficits. In view of this, exergames, which are active video-games, can be considered a low-cost and safe type of exercise for children and adolescents with ASD, since they are more enjoyable than ordinary physical activities, influencing on treatment adherence. Thus, our study aims to evidence the effects of exergames on physical fitness, cognitive functions, and repetitive behaviors in children and adolescents with ASD. Despite the small number of studies investigating the effects of exergames as new strategy in children and adolescents with ASD, results suggest exergames as potential tool for the treatment of children and adolescents with ASD for improvement in physical fitness, cognitive functions and repetitive behavior. Our review pointed towards the importance of exergames for children and adolescents with ASD. Despite few studies conducted about this issue, we can consider exergames a potential tool to increase physical fitness, cognitive functions and to decrease repetitive behavior in children and adolescents with ASD. Moreover, health professionals should be careful when attempting to help this population, because the current literature is unclear yet about the improvement of ASD features through exergames.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, ASD, Cognitive functioning, Exergames, Physical exercise, Repetitive behavior.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2020
Volume: 16
First Page: 1
Last Page: 6
Publisher Id: CPEMH-16-1
DOI: 10.2174/1745017902016010001

Article History:

Received Date: 28/08/2019
Revision Received Date: 22/12/2019
Acceptance Date: 27/12/2019
Electronic publication date: 13/03/2020
Collection year: 2020

© 2020 Lima et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Sport Science School of Rio Maior, Polytechnique Institute of Santarém, Rio Maior, Portugal; Research Centre in Sports, Health and Human Development, CIDESD, Portugal;
Tel: 00351 243 999 280; E-mail:

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