Motor Skills and Calibrated Autism Severity in Young 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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In addition to the core characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), motor skill deficits are present, persistent, and pervasive across age. Although motor skill deficits have been indicated in young children with autism, they have not been included in the primary discussion of early intervention content. One hundred fifty-nine young children with a confirmed diagnosis of ASD (n = 110), PDD-NOS (n = 26), and non-ASD (n = 23) between the ages of 14–33 months participated in this study.1 The univariate general linear model tested the relationship of fine and gross motor skills and social communicative skills (using calibrated autism severity scores). Fine motor and gross motor skills significantly predicted calibrated autism severity (p < .05). Children with weaker motor skills have greater social communicative skill deficits. Future directions and the role of motor skills in early intervention are discussed.

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

Address author correspondence to Megan MacDonald at
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