Autism severity and motor abilities correlates of imitation situations in children with autism spectrum disorders

Ditza A. Zachor*, Tzaig Ilanit, Esther Ben Itzchak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Impaired performance in a range of imitation tasks has been described in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and several underlying mechanism have been suggested. This study examined whether imitation abilities are related to autism severity and to motor skills. Furthermore, the performance of children with ASD in four imitation situations (body movements and 'action on objects', using meaningful and non-meaningful tasks) was compared. Twenty-five children aged 32-51 months diagnosed with autism (23) and ASD (2) were evaluated for autism severity using the Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule and for gross and fine motor skills using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales. Controlling for cognitive level, imitation abilities in all four situations correlated significantly only with autism severity measures and mostly with socio-communication deficits. Motor abilities were below average and did not correlate with imitation abilities nor with autism severity. Comparison of the four imitation situations revealed that performances of meaningful actions were better than non-meaningful actions and imitation of 'action on objects' was better than imitation of body movements. The current research supports the fact that socio-communication deficits and not motor abilities are linked to imitation abilities in young children with autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-443
Number of pages6
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Autism severity
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Imitation


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