Megan MacDonald and Heidi Wegis
Megan MacDonald, Catherine Lord, and Dale A. Ulrich
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, Catherine Lord, and Dale A. Ulrich
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, Bridget Hatfield, and Erica Twardzik
The hallmark characteristics of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are deficits in social communicative skills and the use of repetitive and/or stereotyped behaviors. In addition, children with ASD experience known motor-skill delays. The purpose of this study was to examine salient child behaviors of young children with and without ASD in 2 distinctly different play settings: a traditional social-play-based setting and a motor-behavior-based play setting. Child behavior (engagement toward parent, negativity, and attention) and dyad characteristics (connectedness) were examined in 2 distinctly different play settings. Results indicated that children with ASD performed more like their peers without ASD in a social-play-based setting and less like their peers in a motor-behavior-based play setting. Aspects of our results shed light on the critical need to develop creative methods of early intervention that combine efforts in all aspects of child development, including motor-skill development.
Byungmo Ku, Megan MacDonald, Bridget Hatfield, and Kathy Gunter
The purpose of this study was to test a modified conceptual model of the associations between parental supports and physical activity (PA) orientations and the PA behaviors of young children with developmental disabilities (DDs). In total, 135 parents of young children with DDs completed a questionnaire, which consisted of 67 questions. A pathway analysis indicated that tangible and intangible parental supports were significantly associated with PA behaviors in young children with DDs (β = 0.26, p = .01, and β = 0.24, p = .02, respectively). Tangible parental support was positively associated with parents’ PA behaviors and PA enjoyment (β = 0.22, p < .001, and β = 0.13, p = .04, respectively). Intangible parental support was positively associated with parents’ PA behaviors and PA importance (β = 0.19, p = .05, and β = 0.33, p < .001, respectively). In addition, parental PA behaviors and parents’ perceptions of their children’s motor performance were both directly associated with PA behaviors in young children with DDs. These results highlight the importance of parental support and PA orientations in relation to the PA behaviors of young children with DDs.
Megan MacDonald, Samantha Ross, Laura Lee McIntyre, and Amanda Tepfer
Young children with developmental disabilities experience known deficits in salient child behaviors, such as social behaviors, communication, and aspects of daily living, behaviors that generally improve with chronological age. The purpose of this study was to examine the mediating effects of motor skills on relations of age and salient child behaviors in a group of young children with developmental disabilities, thus tapping into the potential influences of motor skills in the development of salient child behaviors. One hundred thirteen young children with developmental disabilities participated in this study. Independent mediation analysis, with gender as a moderator between the mediating and outcome variable, indicated that motor skills meditated relations between age and socialization, communication, and daily living skills in young male children with developmental disabilities, but not female participants. Findings suggest motor skill content needs to be considered in combination with other child behaviors commonly focused on in early intervention.