The Relationship of Motor Skills and Social Communicative Skills in School-Aged Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 Oregon State University
  • | 2 Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital
  • | 3 University of Michigan
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Motor skill deficits are present and persist in school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; Staples & Reid, 2010). Yet the focus of intervention is on core impairments, which are part of the diagnostic criteria for ASD, deficits in social communication skills. The purpose of this study is to determine whether the functional motor skills, of 6- to 15-year-old children with high-functioning ASD, predict success in standardized social communicative skills. It is hypothesized that children with better motor skills will have better social communicative skills. A total of 35 children with ASD between the ages of 6–15 years participated in this study. The univariate GLM (general linear model) tested the relationship of motor skills on social communicative skills holding constant age, IQ, ethnicity, gender, and clinical ASD diagnosis. Object-control motor skills significantly predicted calibrated ASD severity (p < .05). Children with weaker motor skills have greater social communicative skill deficits. How this relationship exists behaviorally, needs to be explored further.

Megan MacDonald is with the Exercise & Sport Science Program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Catherine Lord is with Weill Cornell Medical College and also the New York Presbyterian Hospital in White Plains, New York. Dale A. Ulrich is with the School of Kinesiology at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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