A tablet-based game for the assessment of visual motor skills in autistic children.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Increasing evidence suggests that early motor impairments are a common feature of autism. Thus, scalable, quantitative methods for measuring motor behavior in young autistic children are needed. This work presents an engaging and scalable assessment of visual-motor abilities based on a bubble-popping game administered on a tablet. Participants are 233 children ranging from 1.5 to 10 years of age (147 neurotypical children and 86 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder [autistic], of which 32 are also diagnosed with co-occurring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [autistic+ADHD]). Computer vision analyses are used to extract several game-based touch features, which are compared across autistic, autistic+ADHD, and neurotypical participants. Results show that younger (1.5-3 years) autistic children pop the bubbles at a lower rate, and their ability to touch the bubble's center is less accurate compared to neurotypical children. When they pop a bubble, their finger lingers for a longer period, and they show more variability in their performance. In older children (3-10-years), consistent with previous research, the presence of co-occurring ADHD is associated with greater motor impairment, reflected in lower accuracy and more variable performance. Several motor features are correlated with standardized assessments of fine motor and cognitive abilities, as evaluated by an independent clinical assessment. These results highlight the potential of touch-based games as an efficient and scalable approach for assessing children's visual-motor skills, which can be part of a broader screening tool for identifying early signs associated with autism.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Perochon, S; Matias Di Martino, J; Carpenter, KLH; Compton, S; Davis, N; Espinosa, S; Franz, L; Rieder, AD; Sullivan, C; Sapiro, G; Dawson, G

Published Date

  • February 3, 2023

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 17 -

PubMed ID

  • 36737475

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9898502

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2398-6352

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41746-023-00762-6


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England