Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Motor Skills and Motor Planning in Autism

The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published research on motor abilities in autism. Using a computational approach the researchers broke down motor control into different components.
They discuss altered motor behavior in children with autism such as:
  • slower repetitive hand and foot movements
  • slower and less accurate manual dexterity
  •  diadochokinesis - ability to rapidly perform alternating movements (ie between supination and pronation)
  • decreased abilities with ball skills specifically aiming and catching
  • unstable balance
  • gait devations (ie tandem gait, heel or toe walking)
  • reduced coordination of higher level locomotor skills
  • hypotonia
Their findings suggest the following:
  1. poor integration of information for efficient motor planning
  2. increased variability in basic sensory inputs and motor outputs  
They concluded that motor learning processes are relatively intact and there is inconsistent evidence for deficits in predictive control.  The researchers recommend future work on sensorimotor noise and higher level motor planning in individuals with autism. 

Reference:  Emma Gowen, Antonia Hamilton. Motor Abilities in Autism: A Review Using a Computational Context. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. February 2013, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 323-344

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