Effects of attentional focus on motor learning in children with autism spectrum disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Inability to acquire a new motor skill is a common motor difficulty in children with autism spectrum disorder. The purpose of this study is to examine whether the motor learning benefits of an external focus of attention for typically developing children and children with intellectual disabilities could also be applied to children with autism spectrum disorder. Children (N = 65; mean age = 10.01 years) diagnosed with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder were randomly assigned into one of the three groups: external focus (n = 22), internal focus (n = 22), and control (n = 21). They were required to throw beanbags at a static target for 50 acquisition trials, 10 retention trials, and 10 transfer trials. While all three groups learnt the skills in a similar manner during the acquisition phase, the internal focus group demonstrated more robust motor performance than the external focus group and the control group in both retention and transfer tests, while there was no difference between the external focus group and the control group in both retention and transfer tests. The findings provide evidence that internal focus of attention may be more effective for facilitating motor learning in children with autism spectrum disorder. However, further study is needed to determine the factors contributing to this finding. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-412
JournalAutism
Volume23
Issue number2
Early online dateDec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

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Focus Groups
Learning
Control Groups
Motor Skills
Disabled Children
Intellectual Disability
Autism Spectrum Disorder

Bibliographical note

Tse, A. C. Y. (2019). Effects of attentional focus on motor learning in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 23(2), 405-412. doi: 10.1177/1362361317738393

Keywords

  • Attentional focus
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Children
  • Motor learning