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      Social and motor skills of children and youth with autism from the perspectives of caregivers

      , ,

      Advances in Autism

      Emerald Publishing

      Qualitative, Autism, Social skills

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          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.



          This study aims to explore social and motor impairments of children with autism through the perspectives of their caregivers. Social and motor deficits among people with autism are well documented. There is support to suggest a reciprocal relationship between social and motor deficits among people with autism, in that social deficits can act as a barrier to motor skill development and motor deficits can act as a barrier to social skill development.


          This study explored social and motor impairments of children with autism through the perspectives of eight caregivers of children with autism.


          Many salient findings emerged from the interviews conducted with caregivers, particularly concerning the social and motor development of their children. The relationships between their children’s social and motor deficits were also highlighted.

          Research limitations/implications

          It is important that health-care professionals educate parents about the consequences of motor impairments or delays and their associations with the development of social skills. As such, routine motor skill monitoring and assessments by caregivers and health-care professionals should be encouraged.


          To the best of authors’ knowledge, this is the first paper to investigate motor and social deficits of children with autism from the caregivers’ perspectives.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Social skills development in children with autism spectrum disorders: a review of the intervention research.

          Social reciprocity deficits are a core feature of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This review summarizes the state of research in group-based social skills training programs for school-age children and adolescents with ASD. All published studies of group social skills interventions between 1985 and 2006 were reviewed, as well as dissertations examining group-based social skills intervention programs. To assess the state of the science, a template developed by an NIMH work group was applied to 14 identified studies. Based on this review, the empirical support for this approach is incomplete, but promising intervention strategies were identified. Recommendations for the design of future treatment trials to guide clinical practice are offered.
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            Impairment in movement skills of children with autistic spectrum disorders.

            We undertook this study to explore the degree of impairment in movement skills in children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and a wide IQ range. Movement skills were measured using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC) in a large, well defined, population-derived group of children (n=101: 89 males,12 females; mean age 11y 4mo, SD 10mo; range 10y-14y 3mo) with childhood autism and broader ASD and a wide range of IQ scores. Additionally, we tested whether a parent-completed questionnaire, the Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire (DCDQ), was useful in identifying children who met criteria for movement impairments after assessment (n=97 with complete M-ABCs and DCDQs). Of the children with ASD, 79% had definite movement impairments on the M-ABC; a further 10% had borderline problems. Children with childhood autism were more impaired than children with broader ASD, and children with an IQ less than 70 were more impaired than those with IQ more than 70. This is consistent with the view that movement impairments may arise from a more severe neurological impairment that also contributes to intellectual disability and more severe autism. Movement impairment was not associated with everyday adaptive behaviour once the effect of IQ was controlled for. The DCDQ performed moderately well as a screen for possible motor difficulties. Movement impairments are common in children with ASD. Systematic assessment of movement abilities should be considered a routine investigation.
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              Prevalence of motor impairment in autism spectrum disorders.

              Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are manifest as impairments in social interaction, language and speech development, and the appearance of repetitive behaviors with restricted interests. Motor impairments in individuals with ASD have been categorized as "associated symptoms". The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of motor deficits in ASD. Specifically, using retrospective clinical record review, we report the prevalence of hypotonia, motor apraxia, reduced ankle mobility, history of gross motor delay, and toe-walking, as well as the improvement of these symptoms with age, in a cohort of 154 children with ASD. The possible association of motor deficits with epilepsy or developmental regression was also assessed. To address whether the motor deficits in children with ASD were properly identified and treated, we evaluated whether the children with the motor deficits were more likely to receive physical and/or occupational therapies as compared to the children with ASD who did not show motor deficits. Hypotonia was the most common motor symptom in our ASD cohort (51%) and this appeared to improve over time, as suggested by the significant reduction in prevalence in older children (p=0.002). Likewise, motor apraxia (34%) showed a tendency to be more prevalent among younger children as compared with older children (p=0.06). Historical intermittent toe-walking was found in 19% of children while reduced ankle mobility was a rare occurrence. Gross motor delay was reported in 9% of children, all of whom gained motor independence by the time of examination. Except for gross motor delay, ASD children with fine motor deficits were not more likely to receive interventional services, as compared with ASD children without the motor deficits. The results suggest that fine motor control and programming deficits are common co-occurrence of children with ASD in this cohort. The reduced prevalence of these motor deficits in older children suggests improvement over time, whether through natural progression, results of interventional therapy, or the combination of the two. However, ASD children with the motor deficits were not more likely to receive service than those without the motor deficits.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Autism
                Emerald Publishing
                29 June 2020
                03 December 2020
                : 6
                : 4
                : 259-275
                Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
                Department of Kinesiology and Physical Educations, Wilfrid Laurier University , Waterloo, Canada
                Author notes
                Brianne Redquest can be contacted at:
                647919 AIA-01-2020-0008.pdf AIA-01-2020-0008
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 44, Pages: 1, Words: 8739
                research-article, Research paper
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata
                Web-ready article package

                Health & Social care

                Social skills, Autism, Qualitative


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