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Preschoolers with autism show gains after play-based program

Medical X-Press – Sarah C.p. Williams

“Treatments for autism spectrum disorder that appear promising in a research lab often don’t work as well in real-life settings. But one intervention, developed over the past 15 years by UCLA scientists, has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of autism in preschool-age children, even when it’s carried out in facilities with less substantial resources and by mostly young teaching assistants. “Children who received the intervention were more engaged with their teacher, used more communication gestures and words than did children who were not in the intervention,” said Connie Kasari, the paper’s senior author and a UCLA professor of education and psychiatry. The study was published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.”(more)

Play, cognitive skills in kindergarten predict extracurricular activities in middle school

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Cognitive skills and experiences like classroom-based play in kindergarten lead to participation in extracurricular activities in 8th grade among children growing up in poverty, finds a new study led by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The findings, published in Applied Developmental Science, look at extracurricular activities as precursors to civic engagement, the building blocks for a healthy democracy. “This study provides first-time empirical evidence that young children’s experiences and skills in kindergarten may shape their engagement in society later in life,” said study author Jennifer Astuto, research assistant professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt and director of playLabNYU, which studies the role of play in children’s lives.”(more)

Health Experts Release New Guidances for Improving Recess in U.S. Schools

Education World – Nicole Gorman

“Health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) have partnered to release a series of guidances intended to help both elementary and secondary school leaders improve recess for the benefit of U.S. students. The first guidance, Strategies for Recess in Schools, provides 19 evidence-based recommendations designed for leaders interested in “making leadership decisions, communicating behavioral and safety expectations, creating a supportive environment, engaging the school community and gathering information,” said the American Academy of Pediatrics.”(more)

Exercise: an antidote for behavioral issues in students?

Medical X-Press – Amy Norton

“Children with serious behavioral disorders might fare better at school if they get some exercise during the day, a new study suggests. The researchers focused on children and teenagers with conditions that included autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression. They looked at whether structured exercise during the school day—in the form of stationary “cybercycles”—could help ease students’ behavioral issues in the classroom. Over a period of seven weeks, the study found it did. Kids were about one-third to 50 percent less likely to act out in class, compared to a seven-week period when they took standard gym classes.”(more)

Boys Who Sit Still Have a Harder Time Learning to Read

Time – Belinda Luscomb

“Anybody who has watched little boys for even five seconds knows that they are exhausting. At school, they tear around the playground, bolt through corridors and ricochet off classroom walls. According to a new Finnish study, this is all helping them to be better at reading. The study, released Nov. 30 in the Journal of Medicine and Sport, found that the more time kids in Grade 1 spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. In first grade, a lot of sedentary time and no running around also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.”(more)

Sedentary lifestyle may impair academic performance in boys

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“A sedentary lifestyle is linked to poorer reading skills in the first three school years in 6-8 year old boys, according to a new study from Finland. The study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge was recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. “Low levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and high levels of sedentary time in Grade 1 were related to better reading skills in Grades 1-3 among boys. We also observed that boys who had a combination of low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary time had the poorest reading skills through Grades 1-3,” explains Eero Haapala, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.”(more)