Children with autistic disorder (AD) display atypical eye contact and struggle with the social
imitation of eye contact. Impaired social imitation may be indicative of disruptions in motor
learning processes. The application of specific motor learning principles, such as external
feedback, may suggest which variables will result in positive change in eye contact. The study
aimed to determine the effects of knowledge of performance (KP) and knowledge of results
(KR) as types of feedback on the frequency and duration of elicited and spontaneous eye
contact in children with AD. A two-phase multiple-probe, multi-treatment (cross-over), singleparticipant
design with a withdrawal component was used. Mixed treatment effects were
obtained. Overall effects suggest that KR results in the greatest positive change over a short
period of time regarding frequency and duration for both elicited and spontaneous eye contact.
This type of feedback seems to be the most effective for spontaneous eye contact. The provision
of KP, after elicited and spontaneous eye contact, produced positive effects for duration only.
The current Phase 1 evidence suggests that KR (which is goal-directed with fewer additional
instructions) may be more beneficial to children with AD. These findings are in accordance
with the limb motor learning literature and may therefore support preliminary evidence for
disrupted motor learning during eye contact imitation in children with AD.
S.G. designed the study, set up the treatment protocol and
compiled the article. M.M., A.V.d.M. and M.S. contributed to
the data collection and interpretation of the results. E.S.
assisted in the writing of the article.