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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2015, Article ID 736516, 18 pages
Research Article

The Effects of Rhythm and Robotic Interventions on the Imitation/Praxis, Interpersonal Synchrony, and Motor Performance of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

1Department of Physical Therapy, Biomechanics and Movement Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19713, USA
2Physical Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
3Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention, Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
4Behavioral Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19713, USA

Received 17 July 2015; Revised 6 November 2015; Accepted 26 November 2015

Academic Editor: Klaus-Peter Ossenkopp

Copyright © 2015 Sudha M. Srinivasan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We assessed the effects of three interventions, rhythm, robotic, and standard-of-care, on the imitation/praxis, interpersonal synchrony, and overall motor performance of 36 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between 5 and 12 years of age. Children were matched on age, level of functioning, and services received, prior to random assignment to one of the three groups. Training was provided for 8 weeks with 4 sessions provided each week. We assessed generalized changes in motor skills from the pretest to the posttest using a standardized test of motor performance, the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, 2nd edition (BOT-2). We also assessed training-specific changes in imitation/praxis and interpersonal synchrony during an early and a late session. Consistent with the training activities practiced, the rhythm and robot groups improved on the body coordination composite of the BOT-2, whereas the comparison group improved on the fine manual control composite of the BOT-2. All three groups demonstrated improvements in imitation/praxis. The rhythm and robot groups also showed improved interpersonal synchrony performance from the early to the late session. Overall, socially embedded movement-based contexts are valuable in promoting imitation/praxis, interpersonal synchrony, and motor performance and should be included within the standard-of-care treatment for children with ASD.