The Relationship between Motor Performance and Emotion Recognition Abilities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder




Prickett, Christopher

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects 1 in every 88 people, causing deficits in social skills and communication, along with repetitive behaviors and narrow interests. Motor impairments are not considered a diagnostic criterion for ASD, but are widely reported. This study examined emotional bodily expression recognition accuracy relative to facial expression recognition and combined body/face expression recognition in children with ASD, as well as relationships between motor performance and recognition ability. Thirty children with ASD completed 3 computerized emotion recognition tasks, as well as a motor assessment. Repeated measures ANOVA comparing recognition across tasks revealed that bodily expressions were most accurately recognized. A comparison of bodily expression only and composite face-body tasks revealed that bodily expressions were more accurately recognized, but there were no significant differences between individual emotions. Subsequent correlational and regression analyses indicated that motor performance could significantly predict global emotional and sad bodily expression recognition, as well as recognition of happy face-bodies and complex facial expressions of emotion. Overall, results suggested that children with ASD show body superiority during emotion recognition compared to faces alone or composite stimuli. Furthermore, certain fine and gross motor skills are able to predict emotion recognition, especially from the body alone. While exploratory, findings can help guide future research, especially in areas for better social intervention in ASD, as well as possibly adding to early detection and diagnosis.



Emotion, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD


Prickett, C. (2015). <i>The relationship between motor performance and emotion recognition abilities in children with Autism spectrum disorder</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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