Analyzing Movement of Infants at Risk for Autism

Principal Investigator: Rebecca Landa

Research question:
1) Will infants at high-risk for ASD display significantly different motions than infants identified as low-risk for ASD?
2) Can the effect of ASD on motor development be used as an early indicator for identifying infants displaying characteristics of ASD?

Using motion capture technology, the movements of infants between ages 6 and 10 months at high risk of ASD will be compared to the movements of those at low risk. During the half-hour motor-tracking portion of the session, study participants will perform two tasks – a pull-to-sit and a reaching task. Each task will be performed three times and data will be collected by a motion capture system. After the infant performs the two set tasks, he will be allowed five minutes for free motion.

The motion capture technology will measure degrees of head lag during the pull-to-sit task and velocities of the hand, forearm, and upper arm, as well as leg posture, trunk posture, and total movement time during the reaching task. The purpose of the free motion is to capture data from movement of joints not included in the two tasks.

In addition to the motor tracking portion, participants will receive assessments designed to provide a general index of their development and parents will complete questionnaires.