Indexed on: 10 Oct '16Published on: 21 Sep '16Published in: Autism Research
Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have long been known to have deficits in the performance of praxis gestures; these motor deficits also correlate with social and communicative deficits. To date, the precise nature of the errors involved in praxis has not been clearly mapped out. Based on observations of individuals with ASD performing gestures, we hypothesized that the simultaneous execution of multiple movement elements is especially impaired in affected children. We examined 25 school-aged participants with ASD and 25 age-matched controls performing seven simultaneous gestures that required the concurrent performance of movement elements and nine serial gestures, in which all elements were performed serially. There was indeed a group × gesture-type interaction (P < 0.001). Whereas both groups had greater difficulty performing simultaneous than serial gestures, children with ASD had a 2.6-times greater performance decrement with simultaneous (vs. serial) gestures than controls. These results point to a potential deficit in the simultaneous processing of multiple inputs and outputs in ASD. Such deficits could relate to models of social interaction that highlight the parallel-processing nature of social communication. Autism Res 2016,. © 2016 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.