Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Kinesiology and Health Science


Studies have found children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a rigidity of motor plans and difficulties planning and executing movements. Children with ASD also exhibit repetitive behaviors such as nail biting and rocking back and forth. When planning for movements, repetitive behaviors might manifest as difficulty in formulating new or switching between different motor plans. In typically developing individuals, actions are often influence by recently performed motor actions. We sought to determine if this influence was stronger in children with ASD.

A rotation motor task was created to evaluate the rigidity of motor planning of five children with ASD (7-10 years old). A control group, consisting of 5 age-matched participants was also tested. The participant sat across from the researcher. In successive trials, a wooden rod was placed in a different orientation around a circle grid system containing 24 positions. The orientation rotated either counterclockwise or clockwise around the 24 positions. The experimenter revealed the rod to the participant, and asked the child to return it to a home position. Researchers measured the orientation at which the child switched the thumb orientation ( e.g. thumb pointing towards black) in both the clockwise and counterclockwise direction.

While moving the stick clockwise, the peak switch (the switch where the sum of all children switched grasps) occurred later for children with ASD than neurotypical children. Children with ASD also switched their grasp position less frequently than neurotypical children. The results of this study suggest that changing a grasp was more costly than being comfortable while performing the action in children with ASD than in neurotypical children.

Included in

Kinesiology Commons



Faculty Mentor

Breanna Studenka

Departmental Honors Advisor

Eadric Bressel