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Does music-based cuing improve motor performance in children with ASD? A proposed motion capture study

Does music-based cuing improve motor performance in children with ASD? A proposed motion capture study

Name:Jessica Elizabeth Teich

School/Affiliation:Music and Health Science Research Collaboratory, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

Co-Authors:Michael Thaut

Virtual or In-person:In-person


The diagnostics criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) incorporate sensory issues, but not motor. Accurately processing sensory information allows individuals to understand sensory consequences of movement. Furthermore, sensory information guides movement, therefore, disordered sensory input leads to inaccurate motor output. Treatment for ASD symptoms targets behavior and language development, while underlying motor deficits often goes unaddressed. Studies suggest music as an effective tool to address motor deficits, as autistic individuals show increased sensitivity for music, undisturbed rhythm synchronization capacity, and intact auditory-motor pathways. Furthermore, music improves social communication and auditory-motor connectivity in autistic children. Yet, using music to facilitate controlled motor performance in children with autism is not well studied. Fabbri-Destro et al., 2009, found that children with autism perform worse than their typically developing peers in chaining motor actions into a global action via an upper motor task. My research will see 30 children with autism (ages 6-12) participate in a similar task, instructed to execute two actions consisting each of three motor acts. This task will be performed during three conditions: self-paced (SP), auditory stimulus #1 (metronome beat = MB), auditory stimulus #2 (structured music = SM). I hypothesize the participants will show quicker initiation of movement and less movement variability during the MB and/or SM than SP. Data will be collected from coordinates of the hand, thumb, and forefinger via VICON motion capture systems. The results are important to advise the clinical use of specific auditory stimuli to benefit controlled motor performance in autistic individuals.

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