A Novel Approach to Enhancing Upper Extremity Coordination in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Alejandra Sarahi Gamez Corral, University of Texas at El Paso


With current estimates of 1 in 68 children being affected, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is regarded as one of the most rampant forms of disability globally. Although typically diagnosed through social impairment and repetitive stereotypical behavior, recent work has shown distinct motor impairments across the autism spectrum. These motor deficits can be gross or fine in nature and can be seen not only in reaching and grasping, but also in the kinematic composition of the actual movement, such as decreased velocity, decreased accuracy, irregular movement smoothness, etc. The goal of this study was to further the understanding of the kinematic components of goal directed upper limb movement in participants with ASD and to investigate the adaptability of their limb movements after performing a sine wave tracking task. A custom-built bi-manual arm bar apparatus was used, which allowed frictionless bimanual flexion and extension of the limbs in the elbow joint in the horizontal plane. Positional data of the limbs displacement was integrated into a custom built graphic user interface platform that relayed information regarding the position of the participant’s limbs on a projection screen. The participants tracked a sine wave template and performed a speed-accuracy trade-off (Fitts) task that involved moving a cursor between two targets of varying sizes and separation distances. Data analysis examined kinematics before, during, and after both tasks. Variables of interest were: Movement time, peak velocity, % time to peak velocity, slowing parameters, end point accuracy and harmonicity. The findings from this study indicate that children with ASD respond just as well to the tracking task as typical developing children by executing post-training movements of higher velocity with smoother displacement profiles.^

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Recommended Citation

Gamez Corral, Alejandra Sarahi, "A Novel Approach to Enhancing Upper Extremity Coordination in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10689749.