Developing Psychomotor Skills in the Case of Autistic Students
Physical effort gears the subject’s organism as a dynamic system, in all its development stages, as a certain profile corresponds to each ontogenic period, which leads to the processes of growing, development, optimisation, maximisation of capabilities, regeneration, etc. Various authors define effort from the perspective of physiology, psychology, or training theory, either as a process of strength mobilisation in view of overcoming an obstacle, or as a factor in antithesis with the recess state (
Keywords: Autismpsychomotor skillsautonomymotor behaviour
Motor development particularities for autistic children.Psychomotor disorders are common to
autistic children. They are primarily manifested through general motor insufficiency, inability and
imbalanced voluntary motion clumsy gait, lack of coordination, but also through the early occurrence of
athetoid syndrome specific stereotypes (bending fingers backwards and forward, shaking and rolling
palms, jumps, revolving, walking and running on one’s fingertips, etc.) Usually, in the case of autistic
children, the screening reveals the absence of some elementary self-serving skills (lacking autonomy in
activities such as: washing or dressing oneself, inability to use some objects for personal use, etc.)
The Main Objective of the Research
The purpose of research is that of organizing various individual and collective activities meant to
stimulate the volunteering, willing behaviour of autistic children. The autistic child’s appropriation of the
ludic clichés contributes in the formation of memory, attentiveness and perception. In the process of
guided activities, the autistic children gradually acquire the possibility to transfer what they learn into real
activities, which remarkably changes the child’s behaviour. In other words, this creatively regulates the
autistic child’s behaviour and increases their level of practical orientation in the surrounding environment.
The aim of the research is that of studying the psychomotor development particularities in the case of
autistic children. In our case, the observing research has targeted the study of deficient functions specific
to autistic children. The selection process for the present psycho-pedagogical study started from their
physical development (Radu & Ulici, 2003).
The examination programme includes a set of physical exercises meant to highlight the autistic
children’s psycho-physical, functional, cognitive and behavioural particularities.
Children’s Functional Development
Exercise 1. Imitation of hand moves
Exercise 2. Imitative gestures using household objects
Exercise 3. Imitative exercises involving the tongue and the under-jaw
Exercise 1. Hiding objects
Exercise 2. Image/ figure correlation
Exercise 3. Noise sources distinction
Motor Skills Particularities
Exercise 1. Gymnastics: touching one’s toes
Task: to touch the toes with the fingers (ten times)
Exercise 2. Opening the doors and drawers of the cupboard
Exercise 3. Standing on tiptoes
Fine Motor Skills Particularities
Exercise 1. Blowing soap bubbles
Exercise 2. Writing
Exercise 3. Hand motion
Exercise 1. Stringing beads – 2.
Exercise 2. Parts of the whole
Exercise 3. Drawing. Circles
Analysis of the Results
Children’s Functionality Development
The ability to imitate is the prerequisite for all instructive-educational processes. Without imitation,
the child is unable to acquire language or other behavioural patterns necessary for being included in their
respective culture. This is the reason why the research of imitative skills is an essential element for the
development of a child.
We carried out exercises meant to determine the imitative skills for each autistic child involved in the
project (the disorder had been previously confirmed by medical diagnostic).
The results indicate that the majority of children (57%) display an average level of movement
Many behavioural disorders of autistic children are the result of perception disorder and of the incorrect processing of sensorial information. The perception disorder in autism-diagnosed children are
varied and irregular.
The first exercise aimed at determining the visual attentiveness and the degree to which they note the differences in the objects they are shown.
It can be inferred that autistic children have visual perception issues. They better perceive shape and colour, but not the object as a whole and the size differences.
Motor Skills Development
Exercise 1 aimed at determining the degree of flexibility, and also the ability of imitating the
trainer’s moves. The results are presented in the table below.
Based on the results above, we could determine the development level of general motor skills. A
high motor skills level means imitation skills and flexibility; an average motor skills level has been
determined for children who partially fulfilled their task with the help of the adult, whereas a low level
was recorded for the children who partially fulfilled the task, refused to try or were unable to follow the
The analysis of the results has proven that the autistic children involved in the experiment do not
display high abilities of imitation actions which involve motor skills. Most of them (57%) partially
fulfilled their task, being able to imitate the first moves, but they had difficulties in accomplishing the
ulterior actions. In other cases, interest is stirred after multiple repetitions. 43% of the children display
low energy and muscular strength, low flexibility and low stamina. Exercise 2 aimed at determining the
degree of formation of hands oriented moves.
To conclude, the autistic children who were part of this experiment display partial formation of the
oriented moves of the hands. In some cases, this skill is extremely undeveloped. In other cases, after a
few repetitions, the skill of performing the given exercise was acquired but the low stamina level soon led to failure.
Fine Motor Skills Development
The first exercise aims at determining the degree of formation of fine motor skills control and of
gripping an object with the hand.
Based on the results, we have determined the degree of formation of motor skills control, the ability
to grip, the ability of individually performing a task and repeating it.
- High level – 29%. In the case of these children, the ability to hold an object is fully formed; they
have good motor skills control; after repetitions, they are able to fulfil all tasks by themselves;
- Medium level – 42%. The children possess the ability to grasp but they prove some difficulties in
performing the task; low motor skills control.
- Low level – 29%. The ability to grasp and hold an object is insufficiently developed; the motor skills
control is underdeveloped. Many repetitions were necessary for their fulfilling the required tasks on their
The first exercise aims at determining the ability to handle objects, and also the exercising and
coordinating of motor actions in standard circumstances (visual- tactile coordination, eye-hand
coordination). Table 9 presents the results of the experiment.
The analysis of the psychomotor programme proposed above leads to the conclusion that autistic
children face various difficulties in completing the tasks requiring the use of both hands. Also, eye-hand
coordination proves problematic in many instances. The integration of various types of functions is a
visible aspect of the vulnerability of autistic children. Thus, in performing actions which require eye-hand
coordination, it is particularly important to have in view the period when the separate functional
components develop. Although the autistic child may possess well-developed fine motor skills, the eye-
hand coordination may be underdeveloped due to blockings in the perceptive area (Verza, 2011 ).
Conclusions and Recommendations
An essential element in the recovery of the early autism spectrum disorder cases is the stable
environment, extremely important for the formation of personal and social autonomy skills. This entails
the structuring of the autistic children’s lives, the imposition of a strict schedule, with pre-established
timetables for each activity. Drawings or photographic images which represent the child’s activities
throughout the day may be helpful. Each day should be planned so as to alternate instructive activities
with physical and psychic recovery.
The special character of autistic child development also entails a whole spectrum of procedures
specific to social adaptation. It is not enough to draw the child’s attention to the reality surrounding him
(her). It is compulsory that we make sustained efforts to understand their inner world and that we attempt
at looking at the world with their eyes. The families should live with the children, not around them; they
should cooperate with the children and not manipulate them pretexting to fight the undesirable
behavioural elements. Last but not least, the children’s potential should be capitalized on.
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