Observational and Biomechanical Assessment of Eating Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

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CONFERENCE: Academic Festival

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Gibbons, Allison
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An Observational and Biomechanical Assessment of Eating Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)Allison E. GibbonsFaculty Mentor: Matthew MoranSacred Heart University, Fairfield, CTAutism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is typically diagnosed as a social developmental delay disorder. However, research shows the presence of gross and fine motor skill deficits that potentially affect activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating, reaching and grasping. 1,2 PURPOSE: This study analyzed eating behaviors to understand the impact motor deficits have in ASD as an integral component of diagnosis. METHODS: 19 subjects (9 with ASD, 10 without ASD; 19.4 ± 3.0 yrs; 79% male) were recruited and granted informed consent prior to participating in this study. Hi-speed video recording (210 Hz) was taken of each subject eating with one hand holding the container of food and the other grasping the spoon. Two raters completed a seven itemized qualitative assessment of feeding posture. Biomechanical measures assessed 1) temporal analysis of spoon leaving the container to spoon entering the mouth; 2) distance from container to mouth; and 3) trunk flexion as spoon entered the mouth. Chi Squared and unpaired T-tests were used to examine behavioral differences between the groups. RESULTS: There was no significance in trunk flexion (p= 0.46), time eating (p=0.12), spoon position (p=0.28), measured trunk flexion (p=0.09), and contralateral arm positioning (p=0.09). Significance was shown in distance from container to mouth (pppCONCLUSIONS: It is evident that there are motor impairments in individuals with ASD that negatively modify eating movement. The inability to carry out motor planning for sequential movements may be a cause of motor deficits in the reach to grasp movement during eating.2 Motor “delays” in ASD may actually be life-long deficits.1. Whyatt C, Craig C. Sensory-motor problems in Autism. Front Integr Neurosci. 2013;7: 12. Sacrey L-AR, Germani T, Bryson SE, Zwaigenbaum L. Reaching and Grasping in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review of Recent Literature. Front Neurol. 2014;5: 1-2