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Brief report : imitation of meaningless gestures in individuals with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism

Stieglitz Ham, Heidi and Corley, Martin and Rajendran, Gnanathusharan and Carletta, Jean and Swanson, Sara (2008) Brief report : imitation of meaningless gestures in individuals with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38 (3). pp. 569-573. ISSN 0162-3257

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Abstract

Nineteen people with Asperger syndrome (AS)/High-Functioning Autism (HFA) (ages 7-15) were tested on imitation of two types of meaningless gesture: hand postures and finger positions. The individuals with AS/HFA achieved lower scores in the imitation of both hand and finger positions relative to a matched neurotypical group. The between-group difference was primarily accounted for by performance on a test of visual motor integration, together with a hand imitation deficit which was specifically due to errors in body part orientation. Our findings implicate both visuomotor processes (Damasio and Maurer, 1978) and self-other mapping (Rogers and Pennington, 1991) in ASD imitation deficits. Following Goldenberg (1999), we propose that difficulties with body part orientation may underlie problems in meaningless gesture imitation.