, Volume 41, Issue 10, pp 1352-1361
Date: 17 Dec 2010

No Proprioceptive Deficits in Autism Despite Movement-Related Sensory and Execution Impairments

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Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often involves sensory and motor problems, yet the proprioceptive sense of limb position has not been directly assessed. We used three tasks to assess proprioception in adolescents with ASD who had motor and sensory perceptual abnormalities, and compared them to age- and IQ-matched controls. Results showed no group differences in proprioceptive accuracy or precision during active or passive tasks. Both groups showed (a) biases in elbow angle accuracy that varied with joint position, (b) improved elbow angle precision for active versus passive tasks, and (c) improved precision for a fingertip versus elbow angle estimation task. Thus, a primary proprioceptive deficit may not contribute to sensorimotor deficits in ASD. Abnormalities may arise at later sensory processing stages.