Motor and verbal perspective taking in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

2016 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)


North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)


Montral, Quebec

Publication Date



Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty communicating with others nonverbally, via mechanisms such as hand gestures, eye contact and facial expression. Individuals with ASD also have marked deficits in planning future actions (Hughes, 1996), which might contribute to impairments in non-verbal communication. Perspective taking is typically assessed using verbal scenarios whereby the participant imagines how an actor would interact in a social situation (e.g., Sally Anne task; BaronCohen, Leslie, & Frith, 1985). Method: The current project evaluated motor perspective taking in five children with ASD (8–11 years old) as they participated in a narrative intervention program over the course of about 16 weeks. The goal of the motor perspective-taking task was to facilitate the action of an experimenter either hammering with a tool or putting it away. Results: Initially, children withASD facilitated the experimenter’s action less than neurotypical control children. As the narrative intervention progressed, children with ASD exhibited increased motor facilitation that paralleled their increased use of mental state and causal language, indicating a link between verbal and motor perspective taking. Conclusions: Motoric perspective taking provides an additional way to assess understanding and communication in children with ASD and may be a valuable tool for both early assessment and diagnosis of children with ASD

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