Interceptive skills in children aged 9-11 years, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Growing evidence suggests that significant motor problems are associated with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), particularly in catching tasks. Catching is a complex, dynamic skill that involves the ability to synchronise one's own movement to that of a moving target. To successfully complete the task, the participant must pick up and use perceptual information about the moving target to arrive at the catching place at the right time. This study looks at catching ability in children diagnosed with ASD (mean age 10.16 ± 0.9 years) and age-matched non-verbal (9.72 ± 0.79 years) and receptive language (9.51 ± 0.46) control groups. Participants were asked to "catch" a ball as it rolled down a fixed ramp. Two ramp heights provided two levels of task difficulty, whilst the sensory information (audio and visual) specifying ball arrival time was varied. Results showed children with ASD performed significantly worse than both the receptive language (p =.02) and non-verbal (p =.02) control groups in terms of total number of balls caught. A detailed analysis of the movement kinematics showed that difficulties with picking up and using the sensory information to guide the action may be the source of the problem.