Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

David G. Stewart, Ph.D.

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Bev Wilson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Mark Stein, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to identify pathways that lead to improved behavioral outcomes in children with symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and/or related social and behavioral difficulties. Specifically, this study sought to understand the relationship between physical activity, sleep, and inhibitory control and their impact on behavior in children participating in a Summer Treatment Program. This research analyzed the potential mediating effect of sleep and inhibitory control between physical activity and behavioral outcomes. This research examined the separate mediation models, as well as the overall serial mediation model, to inclusively examine the factors that may lead to behavioral improvement. Between-subjects results indicated that increased physical activity was associated with increased positive behavior through improved sleep and increased inhibitory control (R = 0.791, F(3, 15) = 8.41, p < 0.001). Additionally, within-subjects results suggest increased physical activity significantly predicts improvements in inhibitory control, which in turn predicted increased positive behaviors (R = 0.48, F(2, 71) = 10.71, p < 0.0001). Results highlight the importance of physical activity as a component of treatment for children with ADHD and/or ASD.