The generality of a peer-mediated exercise program designed to enhance aerobic fitness of 17 children with moderate and severe cognitive disabilities was evaluated. Two systematic replications of the program were conducted. Participants' ages, disability levels, and school settings varied. Target participants were paired with peers without disabilities. These students encouraged their peers to maintain requisite levels of exercise intensity and monitored their heart rates. A between-group multiple-baseline design was used to evaluate program effects. Results replicated earlier findings. Aerobic fitness of participants, measured by exercise heart-rates, improved when the exercise program was introduced. Results for individual participants reflected more variability than combined group data. Implications for overcoming motivational barriers and obtaining valued outcomes correlated with the program are discussed.
This investigation was supported by Grant No. GO08630385 awarded to the University of Illinois by Special Education Programs, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, U. S. Department of Education. This material does not necessarily reflect the position or policies of the U. S. Department of Education, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The authors acknowledge the helpful comments provided by Yvonne Carey and Janis Chadsey, who read earlier versions of the manuscript, and the skillful development of the figures by Ciaran Patterson.