Brief report: imitation of meaningless gestures in individuals with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism

Heidi Stieglitz Ham, Martin Corley, Gnanathusharan Rajendran, Jean Carletta, Sara Swanson

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Nineteen people with Asperger syndrome (AS)/High-Functioning Autism (HFA) (ages 7-15) were tested on imitation of two types of meaningless gesture: hand postures and finger positions. The individuals with AS/HFA achieved lower scores in the imitation of both hand and finger positions relative to a matched neurotypical group. The between-group difference was primarily accounted for by performance on a test of visual motor integration, together with a hand imitation deficit which was specifically due to errors in body part orientation. Our findings implicate both visuomotor processes (Damasio and Maurer, 1978) and self-other mapping (Rogers and Pennington, 1991) in ASD imitation deficits. Following Goldenberg (1999), we propose that difficulties with body part orientation may underlie problems in meaningless gesture imitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-573
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • utism spectrum disorder
  • autism
  • asperger syndrome
  • imitation
  • meaningless gestures

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