Autistic children often have gross and fine motor skill challenges. They have problems with running, throwing and sometimes how to write. Scientists have long known of these difficulties but not about the relationship between autism and the motor function. Is it the autism or is it something else?
“From our results, it looks like motor impairments may be part of the autism diagnosis, rather than a trait genetically carried in the family,” says lead author Claudia List Hilton, PhD, assistant professor in occupational therapy and an instructor in psychiatry. “That suggests that motor impairments are a core characteristic of the diagnosis.”
For the study, researchers looked at 144 children from 67 families in which at least one child had autism. The children were observed performing a range of motor skills and measured their skills. Testing showed that 83% of the children with autism were below average in motor skills. Their siblings measured in the normal range.
“The data suggests that genes play a role in the motor impairments observed in those with autism spectrum disorder,” Hilton says. “This is further evidence that autism spectrum disorder is a largely genetic disorder.”
“It’s possible that developmental processes in the brain which give rise to motor coordination and social responsiveness are shared by both systems,” said Constantino, the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor Psychiatry and Pediatrics and director of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Washington University. “This could explain their association in autism and provide new ideas about intervention strategies to help affected children, such as innovative methods for promoting motor development.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Autism