What are motion anomalies in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Answer

Motion anomalies are a prominent feature in a subset of individuals and have been reported at birth in some persons with autism. Motion analysis may provide evidence of autism in early infancy, before other manifestations occur. [11]

The motion anomalies demonstrated by children with autism are often highly characteristic and noticeable. An example of a motion typical in autism occurs when the child places a hand with fingers separately outstretched before the eyes and rapidly moves the hand back and forth. A similar experience results from moving up and down while gazing through the slats of Venetian blinds. This action is described as self-stimulation because it produces a visual sensation of movement. (See Presentation.)

Many of the motions of children with autism appear to be attempts to provide themselves with sensory input in a barren environment. Through special education, children may learn to suppress the movements, although these may subsequently be exhibited at times of particular stress or excitement.


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