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PLoS One. 2019 May 28;14(5):e0217416. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217416. eCollection 2019.

Motor performance in a shape sorter task: A longitudinal study from 14 to 36 months of age in children with an older sibling ASD.

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Laboratory of Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems, Università Campus Biomedico di Roma, Rome, Italy.
Laboratory of Developmental Neuroscience, Università Campus Biomedico di Roma, Rome, Italy.
Infant Communication Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, United States of America.


During development, motor skills are fundamental in supporting interactions with the external world. The ability to plan actions is a particularly important aspect of motor skill since it is involved in many daily activities. In this work, we studied the development of motor planning longitudinally in children with an older sibling with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are at heightened risk (HR) for the disorder and children with no such risk (low risk; LR) using a shape sorter task. Children were observed at 14, 18, 24 and 36 months. Three HR children with a later diagnosis of ASD (HR-ASD) were analyzed separately from the rest of the sample. Behavioral and kinematic data indicated that precision demands significantly influenced children's actions, and that children's performance improved with age. No differences were found between the HR and LR groups, but a descriptive analysis of data from the three HR-ASD suggested differences in the variables describing children's action (as reaching time and acceleration) as well as variables describing children's performance (as the adjustment of the shapes).

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