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Motor Learning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

presented by Liliane Savard, PT, DPT, PCS

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Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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In this course, we will discuss motor learning strategies that can be used with children with ASD. We will review current level of evidence supporting these strategies. Gross motor play, exercise and carefully graded learning experiences using principles of motor learning offer another perspective to the motor behavior challenges observed in this population. Physical therapists' expertise in exercise, movement analysis, and motor learning is a strong addition to the interdisciplinary team serving children with autism.

Meet Your Instructor

Liliane Savard, PT, DPT, PCS

Liliane Savard, PT, DPT, PCS is a pediatric physical therapist with 20 years of experience working with children and their families in a variety of settings. She has developed an expertise in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is an alumnus of the VT-LEND program (autism specialty) and also completed a graduate certificate…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Motor Learning Theory

This chapter will focus on recent motor learning theory and principles. We will discuss the concepts of motivation and attention and derivative strategies such as autonomy support, positive performance expectancy and external focus of attention. Current evidence from research supporting these strategies will be reviewed.

2. Motor Learning in ASD

In this chapter, we will explore the literature on motor learning difference in children with autism. Understanding the current literature on motor learning in autism is important to physical therapists as they focus on promoting neuroplasticity, retention and generalization of motor skills.

3. Prompting and Errorless Teaching

Different prompting strategies are used as part of evidence-based behavioral interventions for autism. In this chapter, we will learn about these strategies as well as discuss the concept of errorless learning. It is important for physical therapists to understand strategies from other fields that have applications to motor teaching in autism to allow informed interprofessional interactions.

4. Evidence-Based Motor Teaching Strategies

Individuals with autism have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors. Selecting strategies that promote transfer and generalization over immediate performance is especially important when working with children with autism. In this chapter, we will explore characteristics of interventions that might promote effective and flexible motor learning. Each individual with autism is unique. Selecting motor teaching strategies is a complex process that must take into consideration, the characteristics of the learner, the task and the environment.

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