Preprint / Version 1

Dancing Out for a Voice; a Narrative Review of the Literature Exploring Autism, Physical Activity and Dance.


  • Phoebe Morris
  • Ed Hope
  • Tom Foulsham
  • John P. Mills



autism spectrum disorder, communication, coordinated movement, dance, dance and movement therapy, physical activity, social development


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are characterised by profound deficits in social communication and social interaction, and repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. Currently, few therapeutic interventions successfully target some of the functionally impairing symptoms associated with autism without limitations. New research suggests that instead of combating all symptoms associated with ASD with a single solution, scientific research should focus on providing therapeutic tools that alleviate specific functionally impairing symptoms. Owing to the nature of physical activity, sports, and dance (coordinated movement) these activities could provide opportunities to enhance communication skills and social development in children diagnosed with ASD. Therefore, this paper gives a narrative overview of the literature surrounding communication and coordinated movement; outlining what is meant by communication deficits and exploring the benefits of coordinated movement for symptoms associated with ASD. Additionally, we investigate how various physical activities, with a strong focus on dance, can be used as a platform to enhance communication and delineate how coordinated movement elicits positive outcomes for autistic children.


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