Skip to main content

Assessment of Throwing Patterns in Young Adults Diagnosed with Low-Expressive Language Autism and Severe Communication Disorder



There are a significant number of reports documenting movement differences and disorders in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Observations of throwing patterns of young adults with low-expressive language ASD (LEL-ASD) have not been previously reported and may offer a description of how aberrant movement patterns manifest among this older population.


Throwing patterns over four distances (1.52, 3.04, 4.56, and 6.08m) were compared between young adults with LEL-ASD (n=7, 18.9 ± 1.8 years) and a matched control group (n=7, 19.6 ± 0.5 years). Eleven reflective markers were adhered to specific anatomical locations on participants and a six-camera motion analysis system (120 Hz) tracked marker locations resulting in joint kinematics (trunk rotation, elbow extension velocity, arm slot angle at release) and ball metrics (velocity, trajectory). Three-dimensional stick-figure representations were qualitatively observed by three independent raters to score each throw for stepping and trunk action based on a previously reported throwing rubric.


Across all distances, the control group threw with 100% accuracy compared to 67.7% for the LEL-ASD group. There were significant between-group differences for trunk rotation, arm slot angle, and ball velocity at the point of release as throwing distance increased. Kinematic analysis revealed a largely planar throwing motion that did not adjust for the LEL-ASD group.


Young adults diagnosed with LEL-ASD displayed altered overhand throwing patterns as compared to control participants. Kinematic results underscored the difference in throwing patterns and revealed a lack of accommodation to alter the throwing pattern as a function of target distance. These data reveal differences of movement patterns between LEL-ASD and typically developing participants, specifically actions requiring the synchronized coordination of upper and lower extremities.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


Download references


The authors wish to thank Herb Kemp for assistance with data collection and Courtney Blount, Jaclyn Mahlmeister, Karlee Russo, and Elizabeth Williams for their careful scoring of throwing trials.


This investigation was funded by a Sacred Heart University Research & Creativity Grant.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



MAL: formal analysis, validation, writing - original draft preparation; MFM: software, formal analysis, visualization, writing - reviewing and editing; JTF: formal analysis, writing - reviewing and editing; MEP: investigation, writing - reviewing and editing; MJW: conceptualization, methodology, writing - original draft preparation.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew F. Moran.

Ethics declarations

Ethics Approval

All procedures in the study with human participants were in accordance to the ethical standards of the Sacred Heart University Institutional Review Board and in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration.

Consent to Participate

Informed consent was obtained from all participants/guardians in this study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lauretti, M.A., Moran, M.F., Foley, J.T. et al. Assessment of Throwing Patterns in Young Adults Diagnosed with Low-Expressive Language Autism and Severe Communication Disorder. Adv Neurodev Disord 5, 316–325 (2021).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • ASD
  • Movement
  • Kinematics
  • Biomechanics
  • Motor skill