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      Coordination of precision grip in 2–6 years-old children with autism spectrum disorders compared to children developing typically and children with developmental disabilities

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          Impaired motor coordination is prevalent in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and affects adaptive skills. Little is known about the development of motor patterns in young children with ASD between 2 and 6 years of age. The purpose of the current study was threefold: (1) to describe developmental correlates of motor coordination in children with ASD, (2) to identify the extent to which motor coordination deficits are unique to ASD by using a control group of children with other developmental disabilities (DD), and (3) to determine the association between motor coordination variables and functional fine motor skills. Twenty-four children with ASD were compared to 30 children with typical development (TD) and 11 children with DD. A precision grip task was used to quantify and analyze motor coordination. The motor coordination variables were two temporal variables (grip to load force onset latency and time to peak grip force) and two force variables (grip force at onset of load force and peak grip force). Functional motor skills were assessed using the Fine Motor Age Equivalents of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale and the Mullen Scales of Early Learning. Mixed regression models were used for all analyses. Children with ASD presented with significant motor coordination deficits only on the two temporal variables, and these variables differentiated children with ASD from the children with TD, but not from children with DD. Fine motor functional skills had no statistically significant associations with any of the motor coordination variables. These findings suggest that subtle problems in the timing of motor actions, possibly related to maturational delays in anticipatory feed-forward mechanisms, may underlie some motor deficits reported in children with ASD, but that these issues are not unique to this population. Further research is needed to investigate how children with ASD or DD compensate for motor control deficits to establish functional skills.

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          Most cited references 30

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            Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised: a revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders.

            Describes the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), a revision of the Autism Diagnostic Interview, a semistructured, investigator-based interview for caregivers of children and adults for whom autism or pervasive developmental disorders is a possible diagnosis. The revised interview has been reorganized, shortened, modified to be appropriate for children with mental ages from about 18 months into adulthood and linked to ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria. Psychometric data are presented for a sample of preschool children.
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              Motor control and aging: links to age-related brain structural, functional, and biochemical effects.

              Although connections between cognitive deficits and age-associated brain differences have been elucidated, relationships with motor performance are less well understood. Here, we broadly review age-related brain differences and motor deficits in older adults in addition to cognition-action theories. Age-related atrophy of the motor cortical regions and corpus callosum may precipitate or coincide with motor declines such as balance and gait deficits, coordination deficits, and movement slowing. Correspondingly, degeneration of neurotransmitter systems-primarily the dopaminergic system-may contribute to age-related gross and fine motor declines, as well as to higher cognitive deficits. In general, older adults exhibit involvement of more widespread brain regions for motor control than young adults, particularly the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia networks. Unfortunately these same regions are the most vulnerable to age-related effects, resulting in an imbalance of "supply and demand". Existing exercise, pharmaceutical, and motor training interventions may ameliorate motor deficits in older adults. Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Front Integr Neurosci
                Front Integr Neurosci
                Front. Integr. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                27 October 2012
                31 December 2012
                : 6
                1Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, Motor Control and Movement Disorders Group, University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL, USA
                2Division of Occupational Science, Department of Allied Health Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC, USA
                3The Odum Institute, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC, USA
                4Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Elizabeth B. Torres, Rutgers University, USA

                Reviewed by: Jody C. Culham, University of Western Ontario, Canada; Hao Zhang, Duke University, USA

                *Correspondence: Fabian J. David, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Room 502C, 1919 West Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. e-mail: fdavid3@
                Copyright © 2012 David, Baranek, Wiesen, Miao and Thorpe.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 12, Equations: 2, References: 42, Pages: 13, Words: 9639
                Original Research Article


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