Motor proficiency and emotional/behavioural disturbance in autism and Asperger’s disorder: another piece of the neurological puzzle?
The relationship of motor proficiency with emotional/behavioural disturbance, autistic symptoms and communication disturbance was investigated in children diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s disorder (AD).
The Movement Assessment Battery for Children was used as a measure of motor impairment, and the Developmental Behavioural Checklist was used as a measure of emotional/behavioural disturbance in the following groups: AD (n = 22), high functioning autism (HFA) (n = 23), LFA (n = 8) and typically developing children (n = 20). The HFA group had more difficulty with motor items, such as ball skills and balance, than did the AD group.
There were significant positive correlations between impairments in motor proficiency (in particular ball skills and balance) and emotional/behavioural disturbance, autistic symptoms and communication disturbance.
These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that there are qualitative and quantitative differences in the motor profile between autism and AD.
In addition, the association between motor proficiency impairment and emotional/behavioural disturbance in autism and AD emphasizes the importance for screening of co-occurring emotional/behavioural symptoms in individuals with motor difficulties.
These findings have implications for the potential use of adjunct motor measures in the diagnosis and definition of autism spectrum disorders.