Here are some of the difficulties faced by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while learning motor skills.
- Avoiding tasks and challenges that call for physical effort; associated with being fearful or cautious of the work. Apps to encourage physical activity can greatly help.
- Getting upset in case of mistakes or inability to execute a task in the first attempt.
- Difficulty to integrate past experience and sensory information for planning and monitoring actions.
- Poor working memory, attention and persistence in case of repeated failures.
- Poor prediction capability.
- Poor use of visual information.
- Balance response usually slow and not adapted to the task.
Practicing pouring water
Even apparently simple acts like picking up a bowl of water and pouring it into a container requires a level of integration of information from several sources that include the environment, body sensors, and past experience with identical action, for carrying out the task.
Past experience is important to plan the action
- Positive emotional response: Pouring water is a familiar task. I’m confident you can do this.
- Negative emotional response: You may have tried it before and found difficult.
- You may spill the water and make a mess. I’m anxious about it.
- The weight of the bowl needs to be gauged to determine the strength required to lift it.
Information required to plan the action
Visual: The position of the beaker, its shape and size.
Body: Where my hand is now.
Transformation: Movements needed for moving the hand from the current position to the end.
ASD children can tackle such situations with apps to encourage physical activity. But they have to be introduced at a proper time, so that it’s neither too early, nor too late.