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Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC)
Autism Research Database
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC)
 
Project Element Element Description

Project Title

Project Title

Measuring imitation and motor control in severe autism

Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Munson, Jeffrey

Description

Description

Over the past two decades, autism research literature has grown dramatically, yet the attention placed on individuals with the greatest degree of impairment has not kept pace. One reason for this discrepancy is the lack of effective and appropriate assessment tools for this population. The challenge facing scientists developing assessments is the limited behavioral repertoire of nonverbal individuals with autism. Jeffrey Munson and his colleagues at the University of Washington are making use of a new technology that measures full-body movement and eye gaze within a game-like setting in order to assess motor planning and imitation ability in individuals with severe autism. These tasks are accessible to nearly all individuals, from young children to adults, regardless of their degree of intellectual or communication impairment. The setup involves a Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing device, which translates the individual’s body movements into movements made by the on-screen avatar. Munson and his team have developed two motor-planning tasks that vary in the required speed of movement (popping balloons for quick movements versus balancing blocks for slow movements) and two imitation tasks that vary in social context (imitating a human-like avatar versus following an image of an airplane). They plan to present these tasks to adolescents with severe autism on multiple occasions, in order to assess the learning process as it unfolds. Repeated participation in these tasks may lead to improved performance in motor planning efficiency, accuracy and imitation ability over time. The researchers plan to explore how performance on these tasks relates to autism symptoms, intellectual and adaptive functioning, and receptive language, using traditional measures.

Funder

Funder

Simons Foundation

Fiscal Year Funding

Fiscal Year Funding

0

Current Award Period

Current Award Period

2012-2013

Strategic Plan Question

Strategic Plan Question

Question 1: When Should I Be Concerned?

Strategic Plan Objective

Strategic Plan Objective

Yellow dot: Objective has some degree of funding, but less than the recommended amount. 1LC. Identify and develop measures to assess at least three "continuous dimensions" (e.g., social reciprocity, communication disorders, and repetitive/restrictive behaviors) of ASD symptoms and severity that can be used by practitioners and/or families to assess response to intervention for people with ASD across the lifespan by 2016. IACC Recommended Budget: $18,500,000 over 5 years.

Project Link

Project Link

Measuring imitation and motor control in severe autism (External web link)

Institution

Institution

University of Washington

State/Country

State/Country

Washington

Project Number

Project Number

217695

Federal or Private?

Federal or Private?

Private

Received ARRA Funding?

Received ARRA Funding?

No

History/Related Projects

History/Related Projects

Measuring imitation and motor control in severe autism | 59256 | 2012 | 217695

 
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