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Breanna E. Studenka and Kodey Myers

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit impairment in helping someone else with a motor action, which may arise from impairment in selecting and preparing motor responses. Five children with ASD and five typically developing children performed a cooperative motor planning task that required them to reach for, lift, and hand an object (hammer or stick) to a researcher. The response, movement, and grasp time were measured. Children with ASD grasped the object longer on trials where they helped, indicating that the action was planned in sequence versus as a whole (i.e., prior to the onset of movement). The hammer object elicited a quicker response than the stick, suggesting the facilitation of planning by tools with inherent action properties. Finally, the increased helping of children with ASD was not mirrored by changes in the response, movement, or grasp time.