Pathways to peer interaction in ASD and TD through individual and dyadic joint-action motor abilities

Yael Estrugo, Shahar Bar Yehuda, Nirit Bauminger-Zviely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Any social engagement, especially with peers, requires children’s effective activation of social and motor mechanisms. Children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often display dysfunctions both in individual motor functioning (e.g., fine/gross) and in dyadic joint action (JA), where two partners coordinate movement toward a shared goal. Yet, these mechanisms’ contribution to peer interaction has been underexplored. Method: This study examined the contribution of individual motor functioning and JA performance to peer interaction (cooperation, attentiveness, social engagement, and dyadic quality), while comparing children and adolescents’ (youngsters) with ASD versus those with typical development (TD). Results: Results indicated more competent peer interaction in TD than in ASD. Interestingly, only the ASD group showed significant maturation with age for social engagement and dyadic interaction quality, calls for further examination of developmental trajectories. However, even the oldest participants with ASD continued to lag behind the youngest TD group. Also, findings indicated that better individual motor functioning and JA performance explained better peer interactive competence; yet, the contribution of individual motor functioning to social cooperation and dyadic quality was moderated by JA performance. Thus, youngsters’ individual motor system was found to be an important contributor to peer interaction in those with low to moderate JA coordination capabilities, but not for those with high JA. Conclusion: Results emphasize possible distinct contributions of each motor mechanism and their interaction for facilitating social interaction, hence, encouraging incorporation of individual and dyadic motor skills explicitly into social interaction interventions for youngsters ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1234376
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Estrugo, Bar Yehuda and Bauminger-Zviely.


  • autism
  • dyadic quality
  • joint action
  • motor functioning
  • peer interaction
  • social interaction


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