A Feasibility Study of Bilateral Wrist Sensors for Measuring Motor Traits in Children With Autism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Direct, quantitative measures of hyperactivity and motor coordination, two motor characteristics associated with impairment in autism, are limited. Wearable sensors can objectively index real-world movement variables that may relate to these behaviors. Here, we explored the feasibility of bilateral wrist accelerometers for measuring upper limb activity in 3–10-year-olds with autism (n = 22; 19 boys, 3 girls; M age = 5.64, SD = 2.73 years) and without autism (n = 26; 15 boys, 11 girls; M age = 6.26, SD = 2.47 years). We investigated the relationships between movement characteristics related to duration, intensity, complexity, and symmetry on the one hand and parent-reported hyperactivity and motor coordination on the other. Participants with and without autism wore the sensors for 12-hour periods. Sensor variables varied by age but not sex, with movement intensity and complexity moderately related to motor coordination. These findings lend preliminary support to wearable sensors as a means of providing ecologically-valid metrics of motor characteristics that impact adaptive function in children with autism.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPerceptual and motor skills
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • accelerometry
  • autism
  • motor behavior
  • movement disorders
  • wearable sensors

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